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A Letter To My Future Child: I'm Sorry Life Is So Hard

I’m sorry life is so hard.

I’m sorry that making choices is daunting at every point. This is the price we pay for our radical freedom – the weight of personal responsibility. I’m sorry that there is often more than one right answer, and that many wrong answers feel right in the moment. I’m sorry we have conflicting needs battling it out inside us and that, the more bravely we live, the more complex their contradictions.

I’m sorry that there’s no real way to avoid heartbreak. I’m sorry that there are some flavors of joy which can only be tasted by a heart that has been cracked open. I’m sorry that sometimes darkness will enfold you and cause you to go numb. I’m so sorry that you will, at times, have no idea where to turn next. I’m sorry you will feel utterly alone.

I’m sorry that love makes no sense. I’m sorry relationships can end for no discernible reason. I’m sorry people are bizarre and unpredictable. I’m sorry that you will find yourself to be one of these people someday. I’m sorry that every human heart needs to be tethered to someone else and that sometimes these ties are broken. I’m sorry that looking into someone’s eyes and feeling the bliss of intimacy is no guarantee. I'm sorry there are no guarantees. I’m sorry that even in best case scenarios, people become ill. They lose their memories. They change.

I’m sorry that you will never really figure out who you are – or that, as soon as you do, you will become a new version of yourself. I’m sorry we all eventually discover that questions are much more reliable than answers. I’m sorry that my love for you will terrify me and sometimes that fear will keep me from respecting you.

I’m sorry that the craving for God will often manifest as bewilderment. I’m sorry that you will witness and possibly experience extreme injustice. I’m sorry you will feel helpless to stop it. I’m sorry that you will hurt the people you love, and maybe even betray them. I’m sorry that the question of when and how to forgive is something no one else can help you with. I’m sorry that there are so many lessons you have to learn for yourself.

You may occasionally ask why I brought you into a world like this, where so much suffering exists and hatred is real.

I may not ever be able to answer that question. Instead, I am likely to put my hand on yours and say thank you. Not because you have given me anything in particular, but because your questions are an offering to this world. I may look into your eyes and simply say: it is good that you are here. It is good that we are here together.

When I say this, I will mean it, because even after all that I’ve been through, all the ecstasy which passed and the total-body trembling, I have come to understand something that only my vessels pumping blood can articulate. I have put my hand over my own heart to soothe its ache more times than I could recall, and I have put my hand on my belly to wonder what kind of life you would have someday.

With every fear, I have found some new intimacy with life. I have come to believe in a most mysterious way that to wake up in the morning is undeniably a blessing.

The more I came home to my bones and my lungs, the more I began to take the goodness of humanity for granted. The more sadness I experienced, the more I looked inside and found a deep, sturdy well of gratitude for the fact of being here. This well regenerates just as life does, and that’s why there are some words, like connection, which feel so intrinsic that to define them seems a redundancy. 

This is what it means to be alive, and when I sink into a hot bath at the end of a desperately long day, I see kindness in each small thing. I see the symbols carved into the metal faucet to remind me how to make the water hot or cold. I lather the lavender soap, made by business owners who probably care whether or not I enjoy their creation. I feel the generosity of the earth and all its elements which we can never part with because they form our DNA.

So when seasons of rejection come, and they will, I urge you to look around, too – to lay your skin against anything real and feel all of the cells in your body working tirelessly to keep you alive.

Some people spend their lives trying not to struggle. They may manage to stay mostly hidden in pockets of predictability. But that will not be you, my dear. And as much as it will cut into me to see you suffer, it would hurt me more to see you hide. So I’m sorry life is so hard, but you are going to live. You are going to be totally and completely alive, and for that, you should never apologize.