I read a story once where the mom was struck with an aneurysm in her brain and realized that over the course of a few hours that she was going to die and leave her three small children. During the time she had left, her speech was robbed words at time, causing her to use the wrong nouns and leaving her unable to say anything coherent though her thoughts were still solid. It was the scariest thing I have ever read and it caused me at the time to write out my whole life story, hitting the high points and talking about how each of you came to be and some of the things we spent our time doing. It was a 50,000 word essay covering not a whole lot-I have not had a dramatic life or a particularly difficult or interesting one either. But it was my experience and I wanted you to have that if anything happened to me. Memories are important to me, even mundane ones. Going somewhere we have been ten times before is still worth savoring and sharing. We were together, well, happy and enjoying a day. That's worthwhile, vital even.
That was several years ago, you were all still single digit age. Your memories are developed enough to hold things we have done for yourselves now. At this point in time, I don't fear leaving you with no clear idea of who I am or how much you mean to me or at a loss about our history. Now, I feel the pull to give you something more than a whole of my telling, I want to give snippets of what I have discovered without bogging with details.
1. If you don't know something in particular, just ask someone who does. Don't apologize or feel bad for not knowing, you can't know everything.
2. If someone asks you about something they don't know, be kind and explain as best you can, even if it seems like something everyone should know already. They can't know everything.
3. You don't have to answer any personal questions from anyone, ever. That's why it's personal information. Don't tell things about yourself too soon. Your trust needs to be earned and it's worth working for.
4. Follow your gut. If someone sets off your inner alarm, distance yourself, even if it means losing friends or family. This is incredibly hard and it's not over and done with in a hurry. They get the pleasure of being angry and wronged while you get years being the bad guy-maybe for the rest of your life in that one circle. But your inner peace is more important. True friends will show themselves as such. You don't need people who won't be there for you.
5. If you find yourself being the one who makes all the plans and does all the work in any relationship, take stock. Talk to the other person and let them know how you feel. If they don't step up, there's your answer. And unbalanced relationship can tip too much weight on you, sometimes it's best to just set it down and walk away.
All you can do is be yourself and hopefully people will see your value. That's not always the case, of course, and sometimes you get the shaft because their values change. A decent friend will tell you why, but these days when people have 300 'friends' they barely know, you are expendable. One less on that list hardly means anything any more, there's someone else (or maybe just a new cow in Farmville) to fill that small void in their life-even if it's a big void in yours.
I feel like that will not change any time soon. While it's easy to find superficial connections, real friends are becoming obsolete. It's work to care for someone who is having a hard time. It's easier to do things with people who have less problems.
People don't like when you are not happy, peppy, flush with cash, in a stable relationship and unconcerned with health, weight or things like the roof over your head. I don't know what to do about that, I can't fix other people. If someone makes you feel small or sad, take that energy and do something with it, don't mire down. It's so hard to get back up and it only harms you. That is SO much easier said than done, but try. Be sad, then be useful. If you hate the whole world and everyone in it and don't want to help a soul, then be useful to animals, or a garden or a patch of ground that has trash on it.
The only thing I have left to say is to take happiness where you find it. You guys are my world, your dad is my best friend. There is so much joy in a day just spent at home, with the four of you nearby, the dogs on the porch. I know that's not a permanent situation, but guys, nothing in life is. One day I will be without you three, without our dogs, maybe without dad. But I know every plan I made, I tried to include you. I kept the house as comfortable as I could for you, I had ideas that sometimes worked out, we went places, I took photos. I have so many memories and I know every where I love in this world, you were once there with me. That's sustaining. And I hope you have that in your adult life, even if I am the one who is not around. That you will have one another and a best friend and a porch with a dog of your own and your own sustenance from life.
Don't pin your dreams on another person, or an event that may never happen, don't narrow your lives until the edges barely brush against anything. Enjoy the thing in front of you, dream and scheme and plot and plan, but don't pass by that sunbeam that can warm you a moment or that chance to share laughter or that view that will never be the same again. That book or bath or nap in a hammock that can feed your inner peace. Take as much enjoyment from your lives as you can manage to wrangle from it. Live as freely as you can, be open to new ideas, don't stagnate your hearts or minds by becoming set in your beliefs. Look for people to share experiences with and if no one will join you, experience them for yourself, don't give up. You are worthwhile. You are important. You are loved. You will find your way. You can not disappoint me, you are your own person and not responsible for living up to anyone's expectations. You can do so much more than what someone else thinks you can, including me. You owe me nothing, you were a gift from the start, one I have cherished every day. I only wish I could have done more for you.
That's my four decades of living there. Not that I have it all figured out, not that I ever will. I still make bad choices, my feelings get hurt, more often than I'd like to admit. Maybe after five or six decades, I will have something of more value to share, or by then you will have had 4 decades of your own experiences, maybe you can give me some of your wisdom.