A reply to: A letter from Mr. Watergate
Dear Mr. Watergate. Chance.
I like that.
Do you feel that names are significant? I do. Because Meadow–it’s so who I am. Quiet. Outdoors. Green. Wait until you learn more about me and you will see how green I really am.
And because Chance. I feel like I’m taking a big chance writing this letter to you, just like you took a big chance in your last letter to me.
I just read it. I know I should really take a few days to process it. And I will. But I wanted to start my reply now.
Ok. I really will take my advice, set this letter aside, let my feelings settle a bit, and then write back.
See you in a few days… I mean. Not really. But in my mind’s eye when I pick up this letter again.
Hi, Chance. I’m back.
I needed to take a few days to process everything you wrote. You are really brave.
My uncle likes to say that “Virtue is easy for the virtuous.” What he means is that if someone is naturally good and usually does the right thing, then, for them, being good is no big deal. It’s just them living their lives the way that’s easiest for them.
He says he has greatest respect for those who work for virtue. “That takes the real courage,” he says.
I think that’s why he likes my brother so much! LOL!
I kept thinking of this perspective while reading your letter. To face your mistakes, especially with your children whom you love so much, that takes real courage. And then to own up to those mistakes with me, someone you barely even know, that takes even more courage.
I respect you so much.
It must feel hard when you see that the pain felt by you and your ex-wife was spread onto your children. Pain is strange that way. Sometimes I think that it’s like a virus–all pain wants to do is grow and spread, and it will use other people to do so.
I wish I knew a Vitamin C for pain! You know, something that will kick the pain out of our systems so that we don’t have to spread it, unknowingly, to others.
It’s possible that for me, painting is my Vitamin C.
After my dad died, I was in a lot of pain. My mom had died a few years before, and I still wasn’t completely over it. I mean, I didn’t cry a lot, but my heart had this stitch in it that wouldn’t go away. Then when my dad died, I literally thought my heart was split. I even researched if a person can die of a broken heart. And you know what? They can.
My uncle Jasper saved me then. He was grieving, too, for it was his brother who had died–and way too early. But he pulled himself together and started spending a lot of time with me, and he taught me to paint.
That opened up life for me again, and now, I paint nearly every day. It helps my brain settle out and relax, and then I can see beauty again.
My little Jena comes from a painful background. I think I mentioned she was born in a refugee camp. It’s a really sad story.
But it feels like her life is mostly new, now. I’m sure that, at some deep level, the painful experiences she had in her conception, birth, and first year will be part of a coded memory deep within her soul, but I also feel hope that the healing brought to her by fate will fill her with goodness, so that the pain brings compassion, rather than that spreading virus of accidentally hurting others.
Ugh! I didn’t mean to get so heavy! I guess I just hear in your words that you feel badly about what happened. I also hear such strength and love in your words when you write of your daughters, and even when you write of your ex-wife.
Forgiveness is amazing!
I was thinking about Milagros, too. I think you and her mom chose the right name!
I mean, look at what she’s awoken within you! That’s a miracle that only a baby can awaken.
The other day, my uncle was over while Jena was playing. I’d been watching her and thinking about this wonder she experiences in everything. I realized that the experience of that wonder–that’s part of being human! That’s in all of us.
This made me reflect on how each of us was a toddler once. There are no “bad” toddlers. Each of us was once this tiny thing, full of wonder and joy, looking at the world with eyes that twinkle. This is before the virus of pain infected us, when we are all virtuous, and when being virtuous is our very nature.
My uncle started talking. He says crazy things sometimes, and–confession–sometimes I think he’s a cranky old nut. But then I realized that he, too, was once this innocent baby, looking at the world with eyes of wonder.
I looked in as he was reading Jena a good-night story. At that moment, both of them looked so pure, so full of goodness. Do you think that this quality is inside of all us?
I think that it is.
I think that the miracle is that when you see Milagros, this open-eyed quality of wonder and goodness wakes up in you. Maybe Milagros is your Vitamin C, and when you see her, the virus of pain is cured. She’s your immunization!
Because, look. Having her has woken up so much strength and so much goodness inside of you.
Thank you for sharing that goodness with me.
I think it’s only fair that I share a confession of my own. Not only am I single now, but I have never had a boyfriend. I’ve never had a girlfriend, either. Aside from one crush on a boy in middle school, I’ve just never felt that way.
And I’ve never felt that anything was missing from my life, either. I mean, look: I’ve got family, especially now with Jena. I have a few close friends. I have pen pals! 🙂 And I have my art. I don’t have any missing pieces.
Still, when I read your letter, I felt funny inside. Tingly. That’s why I had to put your letter away for a few days before I could continue with my reply.
Anyway, thank you for being my pen pal and for letting me, too, experience miracles.