Dear Wilber,

You don’t know me, not really, but I’m you from 10 years down the line. I can see you in my mind’s eye, sitting there on the swing hanging from the oak tree down by the apple tree, staring up through the empty branches at a cloudy sky, just as you have for so many years. You’re turning fifteen soon, and you’re starting to explore the different opportunities available to you, and you’re frightened. You see? I know you.

You’re going to go through some things, in the next year, especially, things that will change you for the rest of your life. Good and bad things, happy and sad things. I can’t tell you what they are, though, because that will change how you muddle through them. I just want you to know that you’re going to be fine, more than fine, and that I’m so proud of the decisions you’re going to make.

Yet, there are things that you aren’t going to do, decisions that won’t cross your mind to make. Things like, talking to your parents about that growing pressure on your chest, and not confronting yourself about the negative thoughts that you know you have about yourself. Because you’re not talking, not facing down these issues, those things are going to dog you for a really long time. I’m still working through those things, myself.

Nevertheless, you’re going to be okay.

You’re going to make friends, lose friends, make some more that will last for a lifetime. You’re going to take college courses and love it. That idea about teaching history that’s floating around in your head? You’re gonna do it, and be good at it, although it’s going to look different from what you imagine. And studying abroad in England? Yep, you’re gonna do that, too.

You have a long time of adventures and friends and accomplishments to look forward to, so please, listen to this one thing that I have to say to you: don’t worry. Don’t worry about money, or looking cool, or your friends who are graduating soon and seem to be leaving you behind. Don’t worry about your grandparents, or your pets, or the fact that you feel so alone sometimes.

You’re not alone. You are surrounded by people who love and care about you. Your friends love you and, while they are going on to the next chapter in their lives, you’ll be following them soon enough. Your grandparents aren’t going to last forever, that’s true, but enjoy every day with them, especially Grampa. Play with Freddie, and Pip, and all your other animal friends, too, because they have an even shorter time with us, in the long run. Give them all extra hugs and love.

And when you give them all of those extra signs of love, you’ll realize how surrounded by loveĀ you are, how blessed you are to have them around you. You’re not alone.

And now, you probably want to know about the future, about what happens to you and where you are ten years in the future. I’m not going to tell you. I will say that it’s fantastic and wonderful in some ways, and in others it is far more difficult than you can imagine. But the good news is that you can take it. Because you know why? I have you to remind me of that.

I have your bright vision and gumption and ambition inside me to pull me through everything. I still have your faith, your hope, although different because I’ve experienced more than you. And those differences are okay, wonderful, even, because it means that we’ve grown, you and I. You might not like all the ways I’ve grown and changed, but that’s how life is. Life never takes you down the expected path, keep that in mind. But know that I’m better for it, we’re better for it, and we’re not doing anything alone.

You’re loved, Wilber. You’re so loved, and so loving. Keep loving, and know that I am always here, always listening to your troubles and helping with a smile.

All my love,