Dear 17 year old me,
You will eventually learn to like your name. You will never love it but you will one day actually tell people your real name when they ask. You think it’s funny now when you tell people it’s Beryl and giggle at their surprised faces, but it will get old fast.
So, do you see those people that you’re sharing the school playground with? Yeah, well you don’t have to be friends with all of them after school finishes for good next year. Some of them you will lose touch with and you won’t care at all, but others will always hold a special place in your heart and you will reconnect with them when you’re all grown up. They will mean more to you then than they do now because age brings new perspectives.
And your parents? You think they’re old and don’t understand you but you really need to know just how much they * do* love you. I mean REALLY love you. So much more than you could ever realise. One day you will have children of your own and only then will you actually “get” it.
After you leave school, you will move a long way from home because you think you know better than anyone but guess what? You don’t.
You will get yourself into some mighty fine messes and your parents will dig you out every.single.time because they love you that much. You are stubborn though and it will take you a long time to realise this and thank them for it.
After spending another 2 years doing some really stupid stuff like jumping from job to job and hanging out with the wrong crowd you will eventually tire of the rebellious lifestyle. But do you remember the story about the prodigal son in the bible? Yeah, well good, because that’s kinda who you become.
You will eventually go home with your tail between your legs and move home again until you get back on your feet. And your parents take you in with open arms and love on you and encourage you to right your broken relationship with Jesus. It will be the best thing that you will ever do.
Your Dad will teach you that if you have God in your life; anything else is just icing and that you need to look to Jesus for happiness because a man will never provide what only God can.
He will teach you that all men and women are flawed by their human-ness and will ultimately fail you at one time or another because of this, but that God will never let you down.
You will never forget this and there will be times in your life that you hold fast to this teaching because people will let you down but you will only be disappointed – not destroyed.
You will marry and it won’t always be smooth sailing, but you chose to put your hope in God so you’ll survive every storm intact.
You will have 3 children and they will bless you, frustrate you and complete you all at once.
But it won’t be easy. Two of your children will be boys and they will both have autism. You will fall apart at first but surprise yourself by picking yourself up and carrying on despite your heartbreak and lack of faith in yourself.
You will lose friends once the news gets out and it will hurt, but all will not be lost because much better and more loyal friends will replace the void that they left.
You will experience great loss in the death of your beloved Dad, great heartache in watching your children struggle and great pain as you endure a lot of personal health issues but you will survive them all and come out a stronger person at the other side.
Eventually, you will learn that you can find happiness and beauty in the small everyday things if you just stop long enough to notice them.
Autism will give you the ability to appreciate things that other people take for granted and bless you with the desire to be a better parent.
One day, you’ll read this letter back and you’ll smile, you’ll laugh and you’ll wipe away stray tears that inevitably fall, but you will know that you have done the best that you can with that which you have been given.
And you will continue to rejoice through both hard times and good because you KNOW that life is what you make of it.
Love 37-yr-old you xxx