love letter to myself from 97 year-old me

by erika

Dear Darling,

Whew. What a time. I don’t know what else to tell you but keep going. And to stop. You have before you a pair of docks. The one to the right is rickety, needs fixing, and has a an old fishing boat tied up to its side by a slime green rope. Its 15 horsepower motor is pooling gasoline so thick that you could stand up in it. So much work to do there. So much to toil over. So much to get patched, and stabilized, and readied. The skies pronounce a storm and the sea around you echoes it. The dock lists and sways. Nothing feels stable here. There is so much to be done. There is so much to be done by YOU.

And then over here, ahhhhh. Over here to our left you have these bamboo planks that stretch out to the sea, a berth that could hold you for an afternoon without asking anything from you but to sit. Sit. Here, a wide net bag holding a jug of white sangria dips off the end to be cooled by the calm waters below. Drink. Here, the blue below asks for your reflection and is patient as you gaze from above, tempting a toe every once and awhile to imagine the ripples from your body cascading out out out to the next, where they may be…

This paradox you face at this impossible time is one that will clench the deal for you on control. My dear girl, from here, at 97, where there is only one dock and a great blue day in front of us, you know some things about catch and release. So busy catching, you…not so good with the release… really, what did you plan to do with all those fish?

Without this impossible time, you might have missed some things…this time where your child struggled so much you were forced to see their challenges as their own (not to do with you and yours) and reached out to an old friend who would help you find the perfect “boy therapist” your kiddo had been asking for who would stay as a guide through adolescence and offer tools that could have slipped by. During this impossible time, you were called to really dig in, again, to your issues with the fullness of your body and find gratitude for your privilege to be FULL…you were summoned to gratitude–for community and generosity and small acts that reverberated as behemoth offerings of love…you suffered the loss of a beloved but were given insight on what it is to be held and led through fear by the courage of a lionhearted other…so so much you have been given, even as so much was taken away.

I can’t just hand you all the answers (that would wreck the surprise!), but I can tell you that, yes, you do get that boat running, and yes, you get so many to the other side… but that’s not where you find the answers. Just more questions. The dock to the left, kitten, choose the dock to the left…it’s where the good stuff is. Drink down the wine. Savor the fruit. Do less and more will come.

Funny that pair of docks you’re on right now… So absurd…so contradictory…but so true. Just be mindful of how you walk those planks…

I do so love you. And I forgive you for the mean things you said about me when you were just scared. And, p.s., love that sweet spot at the back of your knees…that clutter of spider veins grows only thicker and more colorful.

Yours always,

97 year-old Erika