I wrote a letter recently that I think could be addressed to many. Feel free to share this because I think the message is needed, perhaps especially to the young people on our planet, who don’t know yet, from experience, that tough times are not permanent when they occur. I don’t know what in the world to do about all the pain in the world. I haven’t the slightest clue. But I pray everyday for the wisdom to do what I can do, for whomever I can. That is all any of us can do.
I have been thinking about the words I’d say to you since the moment I heard the news that you had been at the door of deep despair and walked through it. I have wanted to have just the right thing to say and I have wanted to just hold your hand and let you know that I am here, even if I don’t have the right words, even if Im not someone you’d think in a billion years you’d want to see right now, even if im not sure why I feel such a deep and tender need to find some words to begin with! And then I realized that I might be the only one that either of us know with precisely the right words and for many more reasons than you might guess.
I have lost a child who walked through the door of despair and closed it and locked it and threw away the key. SO I have the words of a mother who has faced the worst imaginable ache. I also have the words I have replayed over and over and over, again in my mind, the words I wish I could have said to Isaac that would have made him stay. And I also have the words of one who stood at the doorway once myself, several years ago when I found myself in a deep despair that wouldn’t let go. I never walked through the door, but I stood at it for a long while, and I think I understand a little bit of what you and what Isaac went through.
Life can be such a struggle. Man! Sometimes I get tired of striving and struggling and hurting and I just wonder what it’s all for. Is it making me stronger? And if so, for what? So I can endure more? I cannot begin to imagine the pain you have faced in your life, but I trust that it is only deep pain that leads any of us to that door. I encourage you to release that pain by talking it out. Letting it out of your body where it lives can free you up in so many ways. I have spent almost 40 years figuring this stuff out, but, looking back, it seems simple—though I know it hasn’t been simple or easy. But what I think I have learned, what I believe in the bones of my bones, is that you, we, all of us are made from love and we are made for each other. That is not hippie dippy crap. That is all the way around and through and hard won wisdom that I resisted for as long as I could, but found to be true when I was at the bottom, after losing Isaac, after thinking that I had truly lost my reason to live.
We are made of love. We are made for each other. This is the truest thing I know. This means that you are always loved and you are not ever alone. You may feel alone now, you may have in the past, you may again one day. But it is a feeling and it will pass. But the truth stays; it does not change, it is unalterable. You are made of love, you are love, you are loved, and we, all of us were made for each other.
It took a long time after Isaac left for me to be able to focus on reading. My brain felt scrambled. But when I finally could I read a book by a mom who had lost her son, this way, also. She wrote a quote that I wont soon forget. “We are not made to see through each other; we are made to see each other through”.
I love that so much. It can be hard to remember that. Ive never been a teenage boy, but I remember being your age, and I wouldn’t want another round of that. It is frustrating as hell—so much that feels out of control, out of reach. I can imagine what it feels like to feel like you are in over your head, with pain, frustration, to feel over it. I will not insult your intelligence or your experience by trying to make this sound nice when sometimes it just really sucks. But please know that you ARE in control of yourself. You get to choose everyday how to act upon whatever youre feeling. Once you can develop that self awareness—and you can with great intention, and failures and retries—you can set any course for your life that you want. You and only you get to choose how you want to show up, for yourself, for others. There is so much power in that! I urge you with all that is true and earnest in my heart, to spend your life building a bridge between all yourselves (that feel out of sync with each other) by honoring your feelings but not being defined by them, and you may just discover that you are limitless. We are in charge of our destiny. No one else is—and we aren’t responsible or in control of anyone else either.
I believe when you allow yourself to accept these truths as self evident, that you will be liberated from the shackles that led you to the door of despair. I cannot guarantee you that this a permanent state of bliss. In fact, I feel like it is my lifes work, to come around again and again to knowing this and forgetting then remembering. But it is LIFE. And experiencing all of it is the magic. The good the bad, the highs the lows, the beautiful and the ugly. All of it.
So I wont lecture you. I wont tell you how your mothers heart can shatter, how your community will be rocked, how your sister will struggle forever, and your friends will blame themselves. Because you already know this from losing Isaac and because you don’t deserve to be shamed for finding yourself at the door of despair. You didn’t do anything wrong and you aren’t a bad or messed up or crazy or broken person for being in pain. You are a human being and human life is hard and confusing and messy. I won’t lecture you for paying attention!
But…Instead, I will BEG you to:
• Reach out when you are in pain. If at first you don’t find someone who will listen or can help, keep reaching. Find someone who will. Scream FIRE if no one is listening, that will get their attention. Put me on that list and I will help you if I can and if I cant I will help find someone who can.
• Remember that you are made of love. You are love. You are loved.
• Believe with all of your heart that you are not your feelings, you have a choice in how to react to them and that they will pass.
• Accept what passes, believe what stays.
• Fight like hell for yourself and your life, with no guarantee that it will be easy but that it will be yours and that you can grow and heal and be whomever you choose to be and THAT is worth it. That is everything.
And if it helps, then read this again. Read it as many times as it takes. Im no expert and I steer clear of advice as much as I can. But I send this out with the highest hopes and good intentions that I possess.