No matter what happens, no matter what anyone says, no matter how hard it gets, always choose love and compassion for yourself and the world around you.
It’s now been three years (37 months to be exact) since I’ve last seen you. You must be such a handsome young man. Just like I remember.
When people ask me how you’re doing, I immediately curl up into a ball. I have no idea how to answer that question. We’ve made so many memories without each other. The gap between us seems much wider. I never want them to ask me how I’m doing because I’ll tell them this lie to make them feel better, “It gets easier as the years go by.”
The truth is, a mom does not stop thinking about her child no matter how grown up he is.
Since my last letter, and all of the messages I’ve sent you that have been left unanswered, I’ve experienced a lot of ups and downs. I’m sure you have, too. Life has a way of teaching us things–things we didn’t know we had yet to learn.
There are times I wonder if I have anything left in me to get back up. What’s a mom without her child in her life? Then, I think of you and how far you’ve come–how far I’ve come–and I’m reminded that there’s still hope, despite what we both have been through.
On my quest to understand how an unbreakable bond could be shattered overnight, I found solace through writing. Did you know I used to write a lot when I was younger? Writing can be a creative outlet to help us make sense of things and heal properly, especially when you feel it’s you against the world. Writing and surrounding myself with amazing social entrepreneurs have transformed my life these past few years.
I’ve restored meaning in my life by supporting philanthropic projects that are saving people’s lives. Through my collaborative efforts with amazing social entrepreneurs, we’ve raised over $75,000 and created awareness to over a million people all around the globe to fight the clean water crisis in Laos. To give families a sustainable energy source that will fuel their Kenyan village for many generations to come, and to help people realize hope is real for those affected by depression or thoughts of suicide.
I often daydream about what it would be like having you here to share these experiences with me. Mom and son take on the world!
As I reflect on that further, I question whether I would have had the balls to go for it. Perhaps what happened with your dad and me gave me the courage to cut the rope. To stop dreaming about what I was capable of doing and, instead, leap out into the great big world and do it.
Most days I feel confident that I’m doing good work. I know I’m making a positive difference. Other days, like today, I feel baffled by what happened three years ago. I never saw it coming. I often wonder how we got here.
After dedicating an entire year volunteering on many important causes, producing a show interviewing over 130 lone entrepreneurs on how to brave through fear, writing a book on practicing bravery, and speaking to audiences about challenging societal norms, people think I have it all figured out. I don’t. You don’t have to either.
You see, I’m not as brave as people think I am. I’m scared every single day. My biggest fear? Never hearing from nor seeing you ever again. My friend’s dad took his life ten months ago, and he’s still having trouble comprehending what went wrong.
It’s not farfetched to say that by helping others less fortunate than me, perhaps I was hoping it could save my life–I could find purpose again and have a reason to keep showing up every day. A little selfish, I realize. But when I got the letter from him that you’d be cut out of my life, I thought that I could prove to you, to him, to family, to friends, and to myself that my contribution to a better world meant I was deserving of love again. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Love is a gift we all have the power to give and receive. No one can take right that way from us.
My last letter, I wrote with a heavy heart. Today, I have nothing but faith and trust that everything will be okay. I will be okay. You will be okay. Find the strength within you to not be afraid to be “you.” No matter what happens, no matter what anyone says, no matter how hard it gets, always choose love and compassion for yourself and the world around you.
This is not your practice life. It is your one and only. There are no encores. There are no redos. This is it. When you recognize this is all you have, everything changes. Your choices become more urgent and that fear of ‘Am I gonna make it?’ is much less relevant. This is your art project. Seek the things you want to do. – AJ Leon
Photo: Flickr/ Chris Ford