Dear 14-year-Old Me

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Dear 14-year-Old Me

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First published January 7, 2013 on facingcancer.ca

With a nod to my friend Bumpyboobs and my new friend Kristi, the following was inspired by an initiative Kristi began with her Life Changes Foundation.  I first was exposed to Kristi on Facebook again with thanks to Catherine.

What Kristi challenged was to write a letter to me when I was 14.  This intrigued me as I think it may be a good way to get back in touch with issues and opportunities with new perspective.

Dear 14-year-old Don,

Sorry it has been so long since I wrote.  It’s 2013 as I write this and you’re receiving it in 1967.  Canada’s centennial  has been a pretty tough year for you.  I found this photograph taken as you embarked on your high school career and it gave me real insight into what a trial ’67 was.  Tempted to retouch the creases and folds I purposely left them as they give another hint to how you are feeling – a little worn and a lot torn up.  You will learn when you get even more involved in theatre than you are now, that the eyes are the window on the soul.

The sadness and confusion you’re displaying I know are a direct product of Mom’s death this year.  After her prolonged battle with cancer and your many visits to see her at Toronto General she left us on St. Patrick’s day.  We both remember the last visit and how she remarked upon the new clothes you were wearing (by the way, you were smart not to wear the wide wale brown corduroy bellbottoms – they actually weren’t that cool – but the gold corduroy shirt with the Nehru collar totally rocked!) and how she asked you to be kind and how proud she was of the young man you would become.

You will travel down a challenging road Don and along the way you will experience some real bumps and some significant triumphs.  While Dad thinks your future is in small appliance repair (I know…a life fixing toasters right?) I can tell you that your writing ability and imagination will be what take you forward.  You’re going to do OK in school.  Somehow we just managed to peak when it mattered and although you’ll be elected Student Council President and do some cool stuff you’re always going to feel as though there is some fundamental missing.  And there is.  It is believing in yourself that you can rise above emotional adversity and carve out a life that will at least partly prepare for what is to come.  Just let me give you a little hint that you’re not done with the cancer fight and if that is something that comes to mark your life forever know that you will make a positive difference to the people who matter most – your wife and your two sons!

WHAT?  Yeah.  I never would have believed it either.  You’re a Dad with three- and five year-old boys named Samuel and Gabriel.  They’re really cool kids and you’re working really hard to ensure they experience a different relationship with their father than you did.  Oh, you’re not gonna be perfect.  As a matter of fact I just kind of had a major meltdown with them this morning but what’s so cool is that when we acknowledge our mistakes our kids forgive us.  You should know that your wife Katie has spent the last year at home recovering from her cancer fight and today we tried to send her off to her first day back to work with lots of love and encouragement.  She’s pretty remarkable and is really excited to embark on her re-created approach to life.  You will learn a lot from her if you can remember to keep your mind open and put aside the fear of abandonment and rejection you’re battling right now.

Anyway, keep writing, keep acting, keep imagining and know that your ability to retain a genuine sense of wonder is what will keep you sane.

P.S. Give Camp Mazinaw a real chance.  It will turn out to be one of the very best things you ever do.

Love you.

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