What I’ll Tell You- To My Daughter (in the far future)

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Photo by David Merz

By Sarah Brooks

This year they told us “12 good years”.
Will I bring you into this world with that written out before me?
Dwelling on that is new- I don’t have the answer yet.
Part of me mourns the time when the only thing between us were the years I needed,
And the other copes by listing out your name.

So, for now I’ll say,
if this world does end up powering you into existence,

On those days that you think I don’t love you,
I’ll tell you that when I was twenty and I decided to save my own life,
I made a list of the reasons I was willing to fight,
the thought of you topped that list.
Years before I’d ever hold you, I held you then.

Guilt is a word that you will learn purely through your Jewish mother,
not food,
not failure,
not the need to sometimes put yourself first.

I hope you fall in love with a place so deeply that you defend it as if it’s your own,
while never forgetting you are not alone in it.
It will not be your native land,
tread through it knowing that.

I’ll tell you that sometimes that place you find has arms,
and holds you sweetly.
You’ll know whether this place is worth defending,
and you’ll know when there are other towns worth seeing.
Don’t let the capacity of your own strength keep you there when it’s time.
I promise you that you are meant to be held by a person who says, “I’ve found my place”.
Love is worth fighting for,
but only when you’re both on the line.
Don’t rewrite narratives for those who are not willing to write you into theirs.

The first person you fall in love with should be yourself,
after that the choice is yours.
But remember that you are no one’s other half,
you are whole.
Look for someone who will stand beside you,
Not someone who wants to complete you.

I’ll tell you, and I’m sorry as I do, but you are going to fall,
But rock bottom is the foundation from which you can try again.
Hold on to that.
I have grown the most from first learning to rebalance on earth that no longer can move below me.

On the days that you question the capacity of strength in a woman,
I’m going to make you spend the afternoon with your grandmother.
On the days that you question the capacity of compassion in a man,
you’re going to have dinner with your grandfather.

When you wonder why we never left Detroit, I hope you wander the streets as I did while you feel the generations that came before you.
It took me 23 years to realize your grandfather stayed because it allowed him to keep his father alive.
I’ll tell you these streets echoed your name far before I even knew what it would be .

People will tell you, if the friendship ends it was never real.
That’s not true.
Sometimes the person who held all your secrets, dreams, and fears, turns into a stranger.
Sometimes you see the end coming,
and sometimes it catches you as you cry on the bathroom floor at 3am.
And I hate to tell you, but sometimes this happens more than once.
However it happens,
learn to not fear those memories.
It’s okay.
You can value it for what it was when you needed it,
and believe in the truth that you no longer do.

People change,
but you are people,
never hold someone’s growth against them.
Never think that vulnerability equates to weakness,
it takes strength to realize you are no more than human.

So, when you want to cry,
cry.
And when you want to scream,
scream.

But when you need help,
ask.
Please baby girl,
just ask,
I promise you we all need help sometimes.

If you’re like me, you’ll lock eyes with the “love of your life”
at six,
and eight,
and twelve,
and sixteen.
Long story short,
a lot of people will have good eyes,
and while you may not believe this now,
that’s a good thing.

But when that person does come,
and their eyes match their hearts,
remember,
it’s not about how someone looks,
it’s about how they see.

Know that how you make others feel is a better reflection of yourself than any piece of glass will ever give you.

So, I’ll tell you when you do look in the mirror,
I want you to see that life is not about how you look in a bathing suit;
It’s about how you feel in the water.
I want you to see that your face is not a blueprint for capitalism to speak its lies to,
It’s the power that knows the truth.
I don’t care if you use what they offer,
but remember that behind that mascara are eyes that see.
By those earrings are ears that listen,
and under that lipstick is a mouth that speaks.
Use them,
use them all,
use them often.

If you’re anything like your mother,
sometimes you’ll use them at the wrong times,
but that’s okay,
you were not born to be silent.

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