The 500 Letters

December 3, 2021

When I was young, my parents used to call me an open book.  I used to share everything that was on my mind.  But for the last decade or so, the real things that trouble me, or break my heart stay with me.  You probably find it hard to believe but I share the most in these letters to you.  You have been my one constant companion.  One day, maybe a hundred years from now, someone will find these letters, all 500 of them. And will think of us in the years between 2010-2021.  Today I am going to look back at some of the letters I have written to you.  Each one of them tells a story of my life.  But in many ways, it told a story in your life and it helped you too.  I share small snippets of them here, but you can read all of them on the blog in full if you want to.    September 2012, I woke up with swollen eyes, I had cried all night long. I wrote the Quiet sob letter.    “You know that quiet sob…. you keep to yourself? In the middle of the night while everyone else is asleep. You know the tears that are hot as they travel down your cheeks. That feeling in your heart that travels deep into your soul. The moment when you say, I tried everything. I worked so hard. I did it all. And I came home empty handed. That is what I call the ‘quiet sob.’   When my loneliness would not go away, on September 6th, 2013, I wrote The Loneliness Lady    “As the years went by I discovered a different kind of loneliness. This one was so much harder to see but oh so powerful. She Was Dressed Up Looking Like Everyone Else. And you barely noticed that she was in your life. The more different I became the more she walked towards me. The more I discovered who I was as a woman the more the loneliness lady approached me.”   On February 7th, 2014, I wrote Dear Death, I Never Liked You.  I have had such a love hate relationship with death, I despised it, and wanted to know everything about it at the same time.    “Dear death, You come and knock on the door of some amazing people. You take them in the night, in cars, in hospital rooms and in every possible way imagined. I never liked you.”   On May 2nd, 2014 I wrote the most read letter of all, The Anniversary Train.  A reader wrote to me and asked if I could write about it. I did. Who knew I needed to write this for myself too.     “On his birthday we would go and sing to his grave. We would bring breakfast and sit there and sing, and the girls would dance. They would say.  Are you 1, are you 2, are you 3 are you 4….  All the way to his new age.”   On May 23rd, 2014 I wrote about a devastating and humiliating experience and I called it Be With The People Who Want to be With You.   Without sharing the details, I shared the lessons and the heartache.    “Why do we chase people who don’t want to be with us? What is up with us? I really don’t know how else to say this but it is almost as if we are asking for it. And let me tell you, I am including me in this group of people. I am the worst of all.”   The Letter to Heaven was written on July 18th, 2014  Maybe I will be remembered for my love for letter writing. I wrote this letter to my first husband and so many thousands of people wrote theirs to their loved ones.   “I used to imagine how would the pain feel years from the day you left. A part of me wanted time to speed up and another part wanted time to go backwards. You left behind a train wreck. The girls wouldn’t fall asleep at night without holding on to the glass picture frame of you. In the middle of the night I would go in their room to remove it so it wouldn’t break and hurt them. We were all so angry, desperate and very alone.”   On August 8th, 2014 I wrote the letter Moment of Impact  I had always had this deep connection with you all, I would write the letters as if we knew each other. Especially in my loneliest, hardest days.    “We might never meet in person but if we did I would want you to know that you are so beautiful. That your toughest nights are shared with me. That your invisible losses have been seen even by one person. That no matter how much you have been through, no matter the terrible losses you have experienced, you have the courage to overcome them.  That you are worthy of all the stars in the sky. That if I could hold your hand every day I would. That my life is changed by you forever and ever.”   On July 3rd, 2015 I wrote You are not Crazy, You are Grieving.  I have often felt insane, mad, and could not find anyone to reflect my thoughts with.  Madness is lonely. Nearly as much as loss.    “Food has lost its taste. Ice cream makes you feel nauseous. The phone rings and rings and rings. You don’t answer. Your body somehow doesn’t want to carry you anymore. NIghts are a nightmare. Even though you are not sleeping. Days are long even though they still last 24 hours. Silence is loud. Absence is a real person. And you think you’ve lost your mind. You have. And we have to talk about it.”   I wrote the Mirror Letter on May 20th, 2016 I have spent so many years not finding anyone to see me.  I always look for mirrors who can reflect the exact image of my soul.  They are rarely found.  This is one of my biggest invisible losses.    “I know you miss being loved. I know you feel like nobody cares about you. I know this is not easy. And, as I am sitting here trying to think about how I can make it all better, I realize that I can’t. I can’t make it better for you. But what I can do is tell you that you are not losing your mind, your feelings are normal.”   I wrote The Half Step Letter on September 2nd, 2016 I have taken so many half steps forward and many backwards.    “One day in the near future, the half step will become one full step. The two steps back will become one. Can you see this? Soon your back steps will become less frequent. And your forward steps the only constant. Life after loss is a dance.”    On May 17th, 2017 I wrote The Long Game After Loss  It is such a long game isn’t it?  I had felt tired, drained, lonely, life after loss had been impossible to predict.   “If you are in year one, just know there will be many nights ahead of you where you will want to give up. Please don’t, however convincing the feeling of giving up is. If you are in year two, you will feel as if things are getting worse. As if it’s all going backward. You now realize how real the loss is. And it is here to stay. I am so sorry about that. I tried to make this part go away but couldn’t. Year two is hard.”   On December 29th, 2017 I wrote, There is no candy hanging from your alarm clock.  Between the years 2017-2019, I went through such a dark time.  I experienced sadness that was impossible to understand.    “It feels like my whole body is crying. Not just my eyes. It starts with being tired. With the clock starting over again each morning. With the fact that there is no break. No wins between one day and the next. Nobody is saying bravo for doing your best. There is no candy hanging from the alarm clock. Just you and another day asking for your striving. For your very best self. Without anyone noticing.”   I wrote Endings on February 2nd, 2018 after a friendship had ended.  It spoke to so many of you.    “It was not like any other day. Something was in the air. A heaviness, with no name. A knowing. A goodbye. An Ending. A full stop. And it was known. Nothing could prevent it. Nothing at all. It was coming. Like all endings do.”   I wrote the Visit on April 6th, 2018  I took the girls to Denmark for the first time since their dad had passed. It was such an emotional visit.    “The mind has the ability to bring someone back to life and make them timeless. Immortal. And so it is for me and my girls in our visit to Denmark this week, his home country. And so it is, we brought him back to life, visiting his best friends, his parents, sisters. The streets he grew up in. The schools he attended. The adventures he had.”   I wrote You have to stop fixing what cannot be fixed on February 8th, 2019  Something within me always tried to convince me that I could fix everything. Even the unfixable things. I believed always I could conquer it all.  But of course, I learned this lesson many times the really hard way.    “And your life inside the house starts to look like the tsunami did. The destroyer. The chaos keeper. The end of you. But this is what it will take. Complete life destruction to move out.”   On July 5th, 2019 I wrote the Letter “Finding a way to write from the moon” I always connected with those who have been through to hell and back.  You have been my heroes. You have been the ones who could see me.    “I could not write a fairy tale, a happy ending. But I could write myself inside a hero.  I could find a way to the brave words of her life.  Because of that, I know you can too.”    I wrote The Visit on December 25th, 2019, when my soul was traveling back and forth.  I can only write deeply when I feel everything.   “Thirty four seemed old to me, if only I knew how young she really was. I wish I could see her physical strength.  She worked all day and took care of the kids after work until late at night.  She was healthy then.  In the beginning of the grief journey her body was ready for the fight, I wish I could go back to celebrate that with her.  I want to see when it was that she started to get tired.  When was it that grief took over? When did she become afraid?”   I wrote the Imperfect letter on February 7th, 2020 It has been messy, imperfect.  And I wanted you to know that I knew, I knew too.    “In time, we have to find our way to self forgiveness. We have to understand the imperfect self that got us down the mountain. Believe that without it, we would not have made it.  The loss would have taken us all with it.  So, if you feel guilt, shame and regret for some of the choices you made during the chaos, don’t.  These selfish acts saved your life.”    I wrote the Bag Carrier Letter February, 20th, 2021 I have written a few letters about people pleasing and the loss that stems from that.    “Of course when you stop saying yes to other people’s expectations of you, they won’t go down without a fight.  Without sulking. Without the silent treatment.  The list is long.  But you are worth the fight.  You are worth the respect.  Enough is enough.”   On July 24th, 2020 I wrote The Losing of Oneself.  Nostalgia has been my biggest companion in the last decade. What an inner experience it is.    “I am nostalgic of all the moments of my life where I just lived, without any wishing or dreaming, just living a regular life.  Being lost in the weather, the ocean, the normalcy.  Oh the normalcy. I miss that the most.”   I was about to sit and write the letter to you on October 30th, 2020, and I got an email that broke my heart. I wrote about the Changing Chairs and thousands of you sat with me across the world.    “What happens in the moments after a big blow?  More hurting. Even though we go from one moment to another.  It feels like a continuous moment doesn’t it?  I wish it was more like a string of chairs.  One next to the other. Ten or fifteen chairs.  And we would sit, feel the heartbreak, get up, sit on the next chair, feel it, then get up again and so on.”   I realized this week I have written you over 500 letters in the last 10 plus years.  As the year comes to an end soon, I wanted to acknowledge you for our unique friendship and sharing. So many of you have written back to me this past decade.   I may not be able to respond to all the emails, but I read all of them.  Each and every one.  Thank you for reading, you have had a first row seat in my life.  Thank you for the honor to sit with you also.  We may never meet, but know that we have met each other many times through these letters.    With a few more letters to write,  Christina 

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Get A Hairbrush

November 26, 2021

Lately, I have found myself inside a new feeling.  Almost as if things are finally making sense.  I understand the hard things better and appreciate the easy things more.  I taste loneliness but can sense the fullness of my life too.  I respect the need for gratitude.  The devastating but timely lateness of wisdom.  If I could name this new feeling I would call it, finally.  It feels like I have arrived at a place I didn’t know existed.  I wish someone had said something about it.  Everything in my life is the same as before but it feels as if I moved to a different corner in the room. And that other corner had a different view.  Everything looked different.  It was not about a new perspective.  Or about acceptance.  It was something else.  I am reminded of something Ram Dass has talked about.  “Our journey is about being more deeply involved in life, and yet less attached to it.” This new feeling sits right inside this sentence.  Why also I decided not to write about Thanksgiving.   It seems like you and I needed something more lasting to talk about.  Something that belonged to just us.  One thing I know for sure is that I have lived my life being pulled by my hair.  Whether in bad times or good times.  It didn’t matter.  But finally, wisdom looking like an old lady walked in and said stop pulling your hair girl.  Let’s give it a good brushing and let’s see how it looks. The old lady brushed my hair and told me to go sit over to the other side of my life and see what I notice.  Especially now that my head was not down on the floor.  I saw. And saw. I heard. And listened. I felt. I felt everything.  The old lady sat there too. Holding the brush.  Knowing that this side of the room meant a different kind of life.  I know there is an old wise lady waiting for you too.  She is late, of course. But her timing is impeccable.    With short hair and an awesome brush, Christina 

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Write Yourself Down

November 19, 2021

Do you know who you are?  Like really know.  And do you show that real self to others?  So much so that everyone would feel like they knew you forever.  Realer than the chairs, the tables, the roads.  More real than anything else real.  I have been asking myself lately if I know who I am.  And not the kind of question that leads to the purpose of my life. None of that.  Just the basic aspect of the question.  Who am I.  Beyond the kind of food I like to eat.  Beyond what my family and friends think of me.  Beyond the filters of prejudice from preconceived notions, stereotypes.  If I was to sit down right here and write all the things that I am, will you do the same?  Will you just sit down and write yourself on paper?  I mean the real truth of you.  And then would you take that paper and make it real, as real as the table it is resting on.  As real as the DNA of you? When you write yourself down, look for the details of you.  I will do the same. So here goes nothing.  I am a good person.  I love to hear people’s stories.  What troubles them. What wins them over.  What impossible things they have done.  The unthinkable things they had to endure too.  I don’t want to die even if it means that I will be reborn.  I want to travel all around Earth.  Stand on the Moon.  See the Milky Way up close.  I love to paint. So much it hurts not to.  I love my children as if I had already loved them before this life.  I grieve the people I love even when they are alive.  I just grieve the day I may lose them.  I started writing because of the strange grief thoughts in my head.  I wrote so I would not lose my mind.  I think I am funny. I love karaoke. Even though I am a terrible singer.  I never lie. I don’t like people who do.  I am quirky. For better or worse.  I wish I had realized it sooner, everything would have made a lot more sense.   I don’t like to shop.  I wish I only needed two pairs of jeans and a couple of t-shirts.  I love short hair.  I am a small person inside my head.  I don’t think about my age much.  I will write and paint my way to the last day of my life.  I have not enjoyed the public aspects of my work.  That surprised the heck out of me.  The longer I am on this journey the more I enjoy giving it all away. All of it.  Inside my head, I live outside of time.  As if I am not here. Even though I know I am.  I feel free. Maybe for the first time. To live the life of my choosing.  And that is the hardest thing I will ever have to do.  Aside from saying goodbye to the people I have loved.  Now it's your turn.  Write yourself down.  Remember who you are.    With me, myself, and I  Christina

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The Good Place

November 12, 2021

There is this place in everyone’s life that feels good. When you are there, it is as if everything is just the way it is supposed to be. This place we all have visited. Some don’t remember ever visiting. Those who can’t remember, have experienced early loss. The kid mind can’t go that far back. But they did visit their good place. It is where we come from when we are born, and where we naturally gravitate towards before loss happens. When we lose that place, we forget that we used to go to it easily. Now we think it is not that easy to find. We may even consider, it no longer exists for us. It is too late to even look for it again. And every time we think that, a wind picks up and our good place gets moved further out. When we call ourselves unlucky, a street we loved inside the good place gets erased. For each time we tell others how we don’t remember the last time we were happy, the music we listened to when we were there, gets forgotten. We convinced ourselves that happiness is not an option anymore and that good place, our natural habitat, gets pushed over the edge. Now, it will take quite the rescue team to get it back up. It will take miracle workers, daily remembering and speaking of it. Playing music until you find the sound that belonged to your good place. Asking yourself for forgiveness for denouncing your happy place. But, when you finally start to believe in it again, you hear it coming back. It is being lifted back up from the edge of the cliff. It sounds like the whole universe is under construction. I bet you never thought construction would sound so heavenly. Not going to lie, the good place is a little beat up. The streets need some cleaning, the buildings painting. The coffee shop in the corner, needs a new barista. But that’s alright. Because being here in the dust, brings back the goodness you had forgotten. And just like that, here it comes. Do you feel it? The feeling of joy for no reason. Just that you are still here getting a second, third, fourth...chance at believing that life can be good again. Miracles do happen. The good place, is as real. As you. As easy as the words you want to say right now. With good places and new baristas in town, Christina

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