Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Nikki in CA

To my dear 22 year old self –

You would think at 22 years of age, things would all fall into place. You are graduating from college in 2 months. You have a great job lined up for your jump-start in the real world but all of that doesn’t really matter.

Currently things in your life are not as you had planned. Plans are funny, aren’t they? You are little bit of a dreamer, so it has been a tough adjustment for you to deal with heavy heartbreaking matters like grief. Not breakup grief (which is no picnic – sorry to tell you this – you will experience a lot of this in the next 7 years) but real life-altering loss.

Let’s get back to plans. You had not really planned on your mother passing away in her sleep. Who does? Especially when she was 63? This was the person who taught you EVERYTHING. Speaking, walking, talking, eating – she taught you how to live! She was supposed to BE THERE at key moments in your life. Since her funeral, your world has forced you to move forward and you notice most of the people around you moving on. These people are well meaning, and their reaction is natural to them, just hard for you. So you have spent the past month “moving on.” You talk to a select few people who understand loss, and allow yourself to cry twice a day in privacy. The nights are the hardest.

What you need is a change. You had it all planned out. You had a great friend who suggested a trip to her parent’s beach house in Orange County. You made plans for a large group of girls to make the road trip and the night before you were scheduled to leave, the excuses arrived. Too busy. Too tired. Too much work. Too sick. It came down to just you and your original friend. When she called and said that she wasn’t sure if the trip was still going to happen, your heart sunk. You had really put a lot of hope into that trip and it looked pretty hopeless. In reality it wasn’t the trip – it was just an opportunity to go and forget about your new Mom-less life.

I am writing to you on that night. For you it was a breaking point, where you just didn’t know if you could suffer one more disappointment in your short little life. You just wanted to enjoy something again. This pseudo life that you had been living since your Mom’s passing was not welcome. You used to have a knack for enjoying things that were not the easiest – such as attending 4 high schools. But at this point, the knack was gone. You are currently praying for a miracle. Not even the trip – just for you to love your life again – whatever life it is – you just want to enjoy something. Eventually you fall asleep crying.

I wish I could have caught you before you feel asleep and told you how this was a turning point for you. Though you won’t realize it – that night was one of the lowest points in your life. Tomorrow you will take that road trip and you will remember how to laugh. You will remember that happiness does not occur with perfect plans – it is just being willing to enjoy moments. Moments like a blow-out on the 1-15 in Baker, CA, just a few days later. Turns out changing a tire has fun potential – who knew?

When you come home from this road trip, a few friends will literally answer your prayers and your last 2 months of college will be some of your greatest memories. They will be your personal angels – proof that Heavenly Father answers prayers. Proof that happiness is possible when our best plans are derailed.

I hate to tell you this – but things will never work out as you had imagined. Prepare yourself for all of your plans being “off track.” You aren’t going to be a girl that gets married by 25 and had a kid by 30. You are going to build a very lovely little single life for a number of years. Complete with good friends, multiple job and many adventures. Some of the adventures are dating – and most of them end poorly – but one of them turns out to be exactly what you needed, even though you didn’t realize it at the time. You even have a little Pride and Prejudice moment of your own with your love.

You regard your grief as a burden but you will realize in time what a blessing it is. Your grief will allow you to “mourn with those that mourn” and “comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” Although you never wanted to – you will now “get it” when someone experiences loss. You will cherish your family members even more than you thought was possible. And on some of those important days when you planned on your Mom attending – you will realize that she been right beside you all along.

Things have never been easy – while single and after marriage but I am fairly confident that they never will be easy. You had someone tell you once that, “happiness is a choice.” At the time, it sounded like crazy-talk but it turns out that happiness – no matter what your situation in life – is simply a choice. It doesn’t come from road trips or fun, it comes from conscious choice. Keep on choosing happiness and things will work out just fine. I promise.

love, nikki


  1. Nikki,
    Thank you so much for sharing. I really appreciate your experiences, and loved the reminder that happiness is, indeed, a choice. Cheers.

  2. That was very well written. One of my favorites!

  3. This was an amazing letter, very touching and a good reminder that the sun does indeed shine through the rain. Thanks for sharing.