By the time you are able to read my letters to you, I am sure you will have (somewhat) grasped the very fallible order of the human condition. In fact, I think you understand this, on some level, already. Last night you ordered, “Daphne, stop it!” time and time again, yet the damn dog kept barking and you, quite rightly, found this immensely frustrating. In fact, the gross disregard of this very inconsiderate creature brought you straight to tears. Well, mama has found herself in a very similar, albeit adult, version of this conundrum. Mama is always hootin’ and hollerin’ about being a reliable, kind and present friend to others, yet I find that I can’t always practice what I preach. As of late, it seems that I can never practice what I preach.
So, where does this leave me in regard to being a good role model for you? Not sure. I just feel lucky that you’re a bit too young to catch on to my hypocrisy. Tomorrow marks the second wedding in the past year that I will be bailing on at the last minute. Mama and dada were married almost three years ago. Several guests were no-shows. That pissed me off. A lot. Now I am about to do this very same thing for the second time. In fact, in the coming weeks, I will make my third and fourth offense. And that’s just weddings. Mama is so unreliable she is nothing short of shocked that she still receives invitations of any kind.
There is a bit of a catch. Mama finds herself hooked up to an IV during the vast majority of these offenses, physically and emotionally incarcerated in a hospital bed. Not only am I unreliable, I am very needy. Auntie J has missed so many days of work lately to play the role of mama for me. Just yesterday she offered a small consolation by stating, “don’t worry, I’ll need someone to wipe my a$$ when I’m older, so I’m just putting in my time now.” It almost soothed my guilt, only if I knew I’d be able to return the favor. It’s so hard to rely on others’ selflessness when you have so little to give.
Every one of my letters to you has been about offering a life lesson, a point of view from a perspective that a child has not yet earned the capacity to see. Well, this letter is a bit different. It’s about imperfection and injustice, apprehension and vulnerability. The words on this page are derived through anxiety. They are written with a delicate susceptibility; a very human insecurity.
Growing up, I was always told that I can be whatever I want to be, if only I worked as hard as I could. And I get it. Confidence is as rare a sight as a mockingjay and we should do all that we can to instill this trait in our children. But what if we can’t be what we want to be? What if our dream has always been to be an Olympic swimmer, but a spinal cord injury takes away the use of our arms and legs? What if we spend our lives striving to fill a theater with an operatic aria, but then our voice is taken?
I don’t have the answer to these questions, Eva. Fact is, there are no answers to these questions. Life has taken some major twists and turns for me in recent years. None were expected. A lot has been taken from me. But there is something very valuable that was given. You see, Evangeline, I have come across the gift of flexibility, the ability to surmount and surpass. There are so many things that I can’t be. And at many junctures, a reliable friend is one of them. But I can re-build my block tower faster than anyone out there. To top it off, I have so many different types of blocks in my oeuvre with an unmatchable amount of stacking tactics to boot. And every time that tower is knocked over, I surmise a new way to rebuild it.
Life is never what you expect, and rarely does your story paint the picture you had in mind. But, kid, if you’re gonna make it out there, just keep doing what you’re doing. Go ahead, knock over those blocks. Just don’t ever stop stacking.
C’est la vie,