A 12-year-old’s letter to her post-pandemic self

A 12-year-old’s letter to her post-pandemic self

Representative image. Credit: iStock.

My 12-year-old daughter, Audrey, told me recently on one of our many walks around the neighborhood that she would never forget this pandemic and that she never wanted to take for granted having friends over, visiting extended family or hugging her grandparents again. She wondered, though, whether people would really live with new appreciation. Over time, would we all forget? Would a hug or a handshake become commonplace again?

“Write down how you feel,” I suggested. “Record it so your future self will remember.”

Audrey was only a toddler when her father — my husband — died at age 33. I learned that it takes intention, hard work and a lot of hope to make it through grief with a new sense of awareness.

Living through that experience didn’t automatically give me a lasting appreciation for life that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. Wisdom, I found, is not a guaranteed byproduct of losing a loved one, or a job, or a sense of normalcy, as we have during this pandemic. For me, that kind of growth took lots of reflection and introspection — which is why I suggested my daughter write down her feelings.

The next day, I spotted this letter on my daughter’s desk, urging herself to read it in the future and remember what’s important in life, and asked her about it.

“Open on New Year’s Day or Eve, starting when you are in high school or even 8th grade maybe,” she wrote.

The letter is below in full, and she has gladly given permission for it to be published, with the hope of inspiring others. As we start to see a light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine approval, it might be valuable for other people to write letters of their own.

———

Dear Audrey,

You are much older now, and hopefully wiser, although sometimes that’s not the case. You have probably forgotten about me.

I’m 12-year-old you struggling with anxiety, hating virtual learning, in this nightmarish pandemic … I could go on and on. Ring a bell?

Anyway, maybe time machines exist in the time where you are, but they don’t here, so I’m doing the next best thing: I’m writing you a letter that I hope you read every year on New Year’s Day, or New Year’s Eve.

I’ve come from 2020 to remind you not to forget. I am sitting on my bed right now, tears still on my face from a fight with my mom (I love her more than anything or anyone, but we’ve spent too much time together), and aware of the light blue masks hanging on the hooks next to the door in my kitchen. In a way, it still feels like March, when this whole crazy thing started. I’m sick of it.

I am begging you to remember. I didn’t get to spend Thanksgiving with my beloved grandparents, when I’d been waiting so long to act normally with them and pod up. Now, it looks like I won’t be spending Christmas with them normally either. In America (where I live), the Coronavirus numbers are higher than they’ve ever been. I am hoping and am going to pray for a Christmas miracle, but I have my doubts because I hoped for an Easter miracle and that didn’t happen.

I am struggling and would do anything to get out of 2020 and this pandemic, to see my friends and family normally. <em>You </em>are able to do that. <em>You </em>have what I want so badly. So please, I urge you to enjoy your life, your friends, your family, your experiences.

Remember — everything is replaceable and unimportant, but people are the only true thing that matter in this modern-day world.

Love your life, and be filled with joy this year.

Sincerely,

You, age 12, Audrey in 2020, the Pandemic Year.