Dear 18 year old Barbara,

You are yet to experience grief but you are about to.

You are yet to experience overwhelming sadness but you are about to. It will swallow you and you will be unable to see beyond it.

Your world is going to crumble at all the fault lines you are yet to discover. Fault lines that run deep into the core of who you are.

You have never experienced this kind of guilt but you are about to. It’s irrational but you and your logical mind will justify it to no end and you will spend many future nights crying senselessly over it.

And no, I am not writing this letter to warn you because nothing in this world could prepare you for what you are about to feel in the coming months. I am simply telling you so that you can enjoy these unencumbered moments: these free times before your heart shatters into a million pieces and it feels as though you’re carrying the weight of the world in grief and sadness. I’m aware that all I’m describing sounds pretty dramatic and extrapolated but I assure you that I haven’t covered even half of what you’re going to feel when Daddy dies. That’s right, you’re about to lose your newly acquired best friend before you’ve even had the chance to swap friendship bracelets.

You are going to cry like you’ve never cried before. You’re going to discover just how much mucus the human body contains (it’s a lot more than you’d like to know). You’re going to call people at 2 in the morning and ask them to just stay on the line because you feel so lonely. You’re going to walk around like an extremely functional ghost, doing all the things a real person does without really being there. But most of all, you’re going to be fine… eventually, not now. Right now, 20 year old you is still struggling to trust God to put her back together but you’ve learnt to see the light in the darkness and breathe in those moments that your head is above water.

So please, cherish these moments with Daddy; I wish I could be you so I could be with him again but I also know that I can’t survive that kind of heartache again - enjoy your elastic heart. Talk to mom before everything changes and you don’t know where to start. But most of all, feel. Feel everything that life throws at you: the joy, exhaustion, love, sadness, friendship, anger, awe, excitement…everything! Do it now because you won’t want to feel anything when he dies. Everything I’m saying probably doesn’t make you look forward to the future but I promise you that it does get better. And although we’re not fine yet, we will be.

Live free, 


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