Dear Karen (Age 8),
I wanted to write to you and let you know that it will be okay. I know some things seem a little blurry to you right now and even a bit scary. Your mom might not be as calm as you'd like, as loving, or even might seem a bit different from other mommies. It's okay.
Did you know she had a very bad childhood? Did you know that her daddy was a mean guy and he hurt her mama sometimes? Did you know that her mama yelled at her and her siblings because she was so overwhelmed she didn't know what to do?
Did you know how much your mom loved her sister? And when her sister passed away at Easter time, it just about broke your mother's heart? Whatever weak thread was holding her fragile mind together snapped. And she had lots of problems after that.
Did you know that your mom is going to be fine though? She will return to you whole and healed in a short time. You will be stronger for it, Karen age 8. You will develop a heart of compassion toward the people in this world who have all sorts of issues because you understand what it's like to be with someone whose mind has been touched by pain.
Dear Karen (Age 13),
I know this isn't how you pictured your new life moving to a nice, new home and beginning adolescence. You didn't do anything to "deserve" the curvature of the spine. It wasn't your fault or the fault of anyone. Bad things happen sometimes. Yes, it is a very frightening time. You are going through all sorts of weird things in the hospital to make you better.
Did you know that your mom will be extremely strong while you are going through this? Did you know she will show a bravery you didn't think her capable of? Did you know that your daddy will make you laugh and keep things light because that is how he handles stressful situations?
Did you know that this hospital time will give you a heart of love toward other people that have health problems and those who are scared and sad? Did you know that you will use this time to be braver and stronger in the future and that you will someday work with people in an office who always tell you just how much you've been there for them?
Dear Karen (Age 17),
You're a teenager now. I know that sometimes your mom doesn't act like you can be independent, but give it time. Did you know how much she worries for you since you had the major back surgery? She is frightened that something could go wrong, or that you will hurt yourself? Remember, that is her issue, not yours. You will grow to be very independent--more than you realize. You won't have to live with the fears and doubts that others have put on you. Just keep your eyes focused on the Lord and remember what He says about you.
Dear Karen (Age 30)
You've had some issues and made some bad choices in life. Even though some people bring these mistakes up, they do not have to define who you will still become.
Your first marriage in your early twenties brought a good family into your life even though your husband wasn't the man he said he was. It is again, not your fault. You are still worthy even though he made you feel as if you were not. You are beautiful, loved, and whole. Don't let what he did affect who you are in the future. Love your sons, be a good mother. Love your parents, be a good daughter. And realize that the hurt you have gone through will once again mold you through compassion and you will love others with your own words one day. Yes, your dream of writing will come true. Believe.
Dear Karen (Age 55),
It's been a while since I've written to you. You have all the tools you need to be a loving daughter as you watch your parents aging and their health, failing. You are stronger than you know--not that weak little eight-year-old girl who was scared of her own shadow. You are a child of God, and a child of the two most wonderful parents! Everything you have been through in life has brought you to this moment; a moment you've dreaded as you say goodbye to your mother and father.
Did you know that you will be okay? I promise. You will be a comfort to others who are grieving. You will know how to talk to God and pray for those who are hurting as much as you have hurt during this time.
Did you know that there will be moments, wonderful moments where you will feel not only Mom and Dad near you when they are departed, but the presence of the Holy Spirit so strongly in your heart that it feels like it could burst from love?
P.S. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. You are strong and courageous. You are a child of the most High God. You need not have fear and doubt and let discouragement put you down. You will rise above all the things that others told you that you could never do. You will do them and excel. You are no longer a little fearful child. Every difficult thing that you've gone through in life has brought you to this moment. It's your moment to shine.
(Your 58 year-old self)