Dear Past Me, Dear Future Me .
Dear Little June,
You don't know me yet, but in time you will. I am you almost fifty years from the time you're reading this! I know how afraid you are of so many things, but you know what? The fear that freezes you in your tracks now will make you courageous and strong.
I know that: It is true.
I know how you tremble at new things . . . remember when you thought you would be the only one in your class who never would be able to do the Australian crawl? Remember the night you went to bed and thought through how this arm moved and your head turned one way and then that arm, and your head turned the other way, and your legs kicked all the time? ...and the next morning at your swimming lesson, you did it!
You're going to have sad things happen to you that will be beyond your control. You will feel lost and alone. But from here I can see how, in time, you lifted your chin and figured out how to carry on.
I see how courageous you are, even if you don't yet know your strength.
Courage isn't not being afraid, you know. Courage is putting one foot in front of the other despite being so afraid that you tremble and cry. Your courage is going to be your Very Greatest Strength in life.
I love you, and I am very very proud of you.
Dear Old June,
I wish I knew how you see me, with one foot poised to step into old age, and the other foot with the toe of its shoe still dragging in barely-attained adulthood. I hope you're looking at me and nodding and smiling, approving of my late attainment of the knowledge that my life is not in my hands, but my happiness is.
I hope you're a wise and wry funny old lady.
I have a feeling that you will look back at Little June and me and think of the last stanza of the Millay poem, "To A Young Girl":
For there came into my mind, as I watched you winking the tears down,
Laughing faces, blown from the west and the east,
Faces lovely and proud that I have prized and cherished;
Nor were the loveliest among them those that had wept the least.
Sometimes I think I can feel your comforting hand on my shoulder, telling me that I am okay, and that it will be all right. I know you're right: I've said the same to Little June. I've learned that all those things that I thought would bring the sky crashing down were simply temporary discomforts. I've learned so much, and only in the past few years.
I hope my acquisition of wisdom accelerates at the same pace as the seasons are beginning to pass. We aren't that far apart, you and I, after all, and if you're going to be a funny and wise old lady, I need to get a move on.
My most fervent hope is that you will be proud that I finally saw the worthiness of me, just as I am.
June, Aging Gratefully