Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dear Peter,

I have so many emotions toward you, and I'm not 100 percent how I feel yet; but the more I hear your side of the story, the more I feel bad for you. You killed TEN people. You killed ten kids; ten of your peers; ten daughters and/or sons. You brutally, thought-out, plainly killed people. Their mothers and fathers will never hold them again; they'll never see them smile; they'll never hear them laugh; they'll never see them graduate and grow up into the adults they were supposed to be.

Yet, I'm feeling sorry for you. Of course I have empathy for the families that were impacted by your shooting. Of course I think what you did was wrong. Of course I find it terrible and disgusting, and don't understand why you chose to do what you did. But, I still feel sorry for you.

The truth is, yes you killed those kids. But honestly, those kids were just as much responsible as you were. I realize most everyone in the world will disagree with me. I realize people will think I am crazy and insensitive and just a huge jerk. But honestly, bullying is not something to be taken lightly. Your lawyer compares it to the Battered Wife Syndrome, and he's totally on to something. There's a point where you just can't take it any more. There's a point where they break you down so much, you will do anything to make it stop.

Our society has this sick view that we should be fixing the bullied; when in reality we should be fixing the bullies. For kids to get away with tearing down their peers, for shoving kids into lockers, for judging their choices--it's just not right. Yet, we think that if the bullied kid will just stick up for himself, or get better clothes, or wear a different backpack things will get better. No. That's only potentially fixing one half of the problem. What about the kids with mean hearts? What about the kids who only care about themselves? What about the kids who are tormenting, and picking on, and being barbarians toward their schoolmates? What happens to them? In a lot of cases: nothing.

That's not to say punishments are not forced; and it's not to say that teachers, principals, and parents are not trying to turn these bullies in a different direction. I sincerely think a lot of them are. However, they weren't in your case. And, you broke.

I think that's why I feel so much empathy for you. You were broken. You were beaten down and defeated. You were like a battered wife; if you didn't get out, you were going to die. Maybe metaphorically, maybe literally. And that's why I can't help but "side" with you. Have you ever heard the phrase "I love you, but I don't love what you're doing"? I think that's how I feel. I in no way condone your behavior; but in a weird way I understand it.

You are a broken, lost, scared person. You are lonely. You are tired. You are sad. But most of all, you're mad. And you have every right to be.

You remind me of my own son. Not that he's lost or broken or sad; he's only one, so he's on top of the world. But you remind me that I need to love him, I need to show him that I love him, I need to support him, and I need to defend him. I don't want him to toss my letters aside, I don't want him to dread seeing me, I don't ever want him to think I would prefer he weren't around. And I'm sorry you were never able to get that from your mother.

So while I'm not going to be cheering for the defense, I just wanted you to know that there is someone out there who doesn't hate you; there's someone out there who doesn't think you're a monster. You're not a monster. You need help, and you need attention, and you need love.

And I'm so sorry you never got any of that.

Understandingly yours,

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dear Lydia,

I'm a little embarrassed to tell you how much I appreciate your sharing life on Blossom Street with me. I'm a young, somewhat trendy, twenty-something, which surely means I should find your stories about knitting and people close to twice my age boring and unimportant. But visiting A Good Yarn and meeting all your customers and classmates makes me feel so connected to something. You've let me into your life and into your store, you've shared your friends and your town, and you've shown me that we're all connected even when we don't feel like it.

I don't knit or crochet, although I've tried to learn many times (I haven't found a lefty teacher yet), yet being at A Good Yarn is so calming; and in my profession(s), I can use all the calm and stress-reduction I can get. Working in the publishing industry and having a one-year-old makes social engagements and time for friends and time for myself pretty non-existent, so I'll take the girl-time in whatever form I can get it.

But more than that, it's comforting to hear about people's everyday struggles. I often get the feeling that I need to be the perfect wife, perfect mother, and perfect employee; but on a day like today, two cups of coffee down and still feeling like I need a nap (and a makeover), it feels impossible. And it's true. I can't be the perfect wife, or the perfect mother, or the perfect employee. I can try my hardest, do my best, and give it my all; but perfection--it's not in my DNA, as badly as I want it to be. We're not wired to be perfect human beings--maybe someday, but definitely not today.

Meeting you and the other ladies on Blossom Street reminds me that I am not going to be perfect, I probably won't even be close to it. But you've taught me I'm lucky to be here; Margret's taught me life could be worse; Alix has taught me that being unique to myself can be better than perfection; and Colette, she taught me that fear, while can be debilitating at times, is an incredible virtue.

The business on Blossom Street reason wakes me up. It makes me realize to slow down. To appreciate what I have. To let go of the stress on my shoulders. But it also reminds me that I can do what I set my mind to. That I can be the best person I can be. That I can constantly push myself. It seems weird, right? That you remind me to slow down yet keeping pushing at the same time. I can't explain it, but I guess just hearing what all you ladies go through reminds me 1) to love my family, to love my friends, and to appreciate what I have, and 2) that working hard pays off, that the support of family and friends will take me farther than I thought I'd ever be able to go, that while I'm not perfect I'm doing a pretty fine job at life.

See, none of you are perfect. You all make mistakes. Yet, life on Blossom Street is so appealing. It makes me realize that the grass isn't greener on the other side. And it makes me realize--there are probably people out there who are envious of my life. Mine! We're all different, we're all imperfect, and we're all living such wonderful stories.

So I'll sweat while I chase my son around, I won't do the dishes before I go to bed, and I probably won't finish working on the manuscript I need to; but there's always tomorrow to improve. For now, I'm going to enjoy what I have; I'm going to appreciate the laughing voices of my husband and son; I'm going to feel the love I have inside of me grown. Because that is what life is really about--the meaningful relationships.

Thanking you for the reminder,


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Dear Paige,

When I first heard your story I was intrigued because I, like you, had a brand new baby boy. He's going to be one on Monday and for some reason I find myself reflecting on your story this morning. I'm dealing with my first "sick baby" time--I think it's just teething, but he's got a fever, and he's fussy, and just wants to cuddle. And the pain I feel in my heart for him made me think of how you could even leave your child. I thought, if I hurt this much just from his being a little under the weather, how could Paige have just left Max?

I can understand the overwhelming feeling you had with your husband at work all the time, and your not leaving the house, and the baby fussing. I totally get that. I get overwhelmed on the weekends sometimes, and I have the opportunity to go to work Monday through Friday and do adult things. But still, to just leave? Especially after months when you've had the chance to bond and really form a relationship with him.

Didn't your heart just die? Wasn't the longing for him unbearable? Weren't you mad to be missing such big milestones in his life?

Or does this make me a really clingy mom? I worry sometimes that I am. Going one day without my son makes me fidgety. The idea of him starting to walk while I'm away at work makes me want to quit my job. I miss him so much while I'm at work, yet I'm only away for nine or ten hours. To miss him for weeks? I honestly think I'd die. Or end up in a mental institution.

And I've heard that phrase "never judge a mother" or something like that. And I really do try to live by that. You never know someone's whole situation. You never know what goes on behind closed doors. And I of all people know this is completely true; you never know what goes on in another person's home. Ever. And even with a glimpse into yours, I really try not to judge. I can understand why you left. I can see your reasoning, and that you just snapped. You didn't really want to go, but for your own sanity you had to go. Sometimes we just get to our braking point and something has to change. It happens to me. And I can certainly understand you snapping since you had mommy issues to begin with.

I am glad you found her though. I think it "fixed" something in you. I think it did something for you that would have ate at you forever. You became a mother with the mentality that you were never supposed to have become a mother. And that's not fair for you or for Max. So I'm glad that you did what you needed to do to become the best mother you could be for Max.

But I will admit, I just didn't think I was going to be able to finish your story. I came into it because we had our son's ages in common. I thought, this will be interesting. But I'll be honest, I just got mad at you kind of. How could you not love your son as much as I love mine? And there I went judging you again. Just because you snapped doesn't mean your don't love your son. Just because you left doesn't mean you don't want what's best for him. Right? You really challenged me. You really taught me that the whole "don't judge other mothers" thing is so true. You taught me understanding and empathy and you even taught me a little bit about love. In a weird way.

I hope you have found happiness. I hope you have found yourself through your son. I hope that he makes you feel full and accomplished and special. I hope that maybe one day my love story, my relationship with my son, can inspire you. Because yours, as much as I don't understand it, has inspired me. It's taught me to hold my son tight, to let go when I need to, and to listen to what's in our hearts. It's not just about me--it's about him too. And you reminded me of that.

Hugging my son,