I love birthdays. They are the measure of yet another year granted by the grace of God; a timeless privilege too often deprived by many whose breath on this earth has been counted. And with every birthday, I experience joy beyond measure, but none will compare to the day I turned 10. Ten was a huge number; with only 10 fingers to count on, anything beyond that was almost beyond my concept of reality. I could not contain my childish excitement for I had “graduated” from a single digit number to an age of double digits. “I’m ten, dad; Can you believe I’ve lived 10 years? Double digits, dad! Ten!” I had said with dizzy energy as he drove me to school that morning. “Yes, ma brunette (he affectionately called me), so you have, and you still have 89 more double digits left to greet.”
And thus started a countdown toward my 99th birthday, (by the grace of God).
Now that I have greeted and passed the halfway point of those 89 years, and have celebrated a truly blessed life, I write the following postmarked letter back through time to my younger self, that 10 year old child who lived for that moment and who couldn’t see beyond her ten years.
Hey there, Sil:
I’d be lying to you if I told you that childhood years are the best years of your life. They’re not. They may be carefree, but being an adult is more rewarding. You will grow to love adulthood. Over the next ten years, you’ll reinvent and rebuild yourself based on the principles and ideals your parents taught you. But not before you push yourself to the limits of your endurance with all those daring activities you do to prove yourself. At the time, you will not know it, but God will definitely be watching over you and your mischievous ways. He will be protecting you from harm’s way keeping you in one piece (albeit with many bruises and scars) to show into your 50’s. You will grow to wear embroidered dresses and chandelier earrings with a carriage of a woman who can wear a tiara without fear of looking ridiculous. Your turning point to make idealistic choices will come from pacing the living room floor and conversations you have with yourself and God in your early teens.
You yearn to make a difference, and you will. There will be times when your gut instinct will tell you something isn’t right, but you’ll go ahead with it anyway. That’s alright, because mistakes will be your best teacher. You’ll learn fast not to repeat the same ones. My advise: do not be afraid to ask questions, and do not speak fast for fear that you have nothing of substance to offer. As you defy geometric thinking and being placed in stereotypical boxes, you will learn to appreciate your upbringing . It will take a few years before you realize you are a good role model. You will use your voice, and it will be heard in more ways than one. Ultimately, and in college, you’ll inspire more women than you can count on your ten fingers.
Then one day, you’re going to be standing in the back of a church in the heart of Hollywood getting ready to walk down the aisle when your dad will whisper that even though you’re marrying only out of love he’s confident you’ve made the right choice. And you will feel like you are 10 again. You will live to love; you will stay in love. You will have two amazing children, a girl and a boy. She will be as beautiful inside as she is out. With the gentleness of a gazelle, she will outrun the deer. She will be kind, and all who meet her will be struck by her grace and goodness. She will be a joy in your life. He will be charming with dimples and cute. He will make you laugh; he will challenge you with his wit and sharp humor. His depth will show in his tender heart. He will be true; he will be sincere. He will bring more joy into your life. You will tell them that there is no formula; that like you, they must choose their own paths. And they will. You will be proud.
Forty years beyond the ten you will have experienced numerous rhythms of life that run their cycle. You will have struggles, but no regrets. You will celebrate each year as though it were your first 10. That quality of yours to live in the moment, and refuse to see beyond the present will save you from unnecessary worry over the future. Your faith will be your strength. At times that mischievous child in you who broke some rules will come out, but the advantage of age will prevail over the child. You will love being an adult.
You will remember dad whispering how grateful he was for the privilege of living way past his 9 decades. You will recall mama being content with her measured 80 years and then some. And you will celebrate each year granted you by the grace of God. You will celebrate your life in double digits.
Happy ten all over again.
Until next time,