Panic Attack Letter (2009)
I wrote this when your dad was first diagnosed with Brain Cancer 13 years ago. I just found it and thought you would get a laugh from it! I was in a bit of a panic at the time so this is very random!
Dear Clayton and Emily,
I decided to write down some important notes in case something happens to me and I don’t have the opportunity to tell you one more time how much I love you!
I have not kept it a secret that I really did not want to be a parent – not because I don’t like kids but because as a first born [and a 5 on the enneagram competence is a very high value], I did not see parenting as something I would ever master. Once you both came into my life, it has always been my goal to be the best parent I could be. I apologize that I really never mastered it as well as I would have hoped and you will most likely spend most of your adult life in therapy as a result of all the mistakes I made. Fortunately, you dad counters much of that by being an amazing father!
I’ve decided to jot down some important notes to remind you of who I am, who I strive to be and what I value in life. It’s an exercise that I now believe everyone should consider writing and sharing with someone they care about — whether it’s to a spouse, a sibling, a childhood friend, or the person who invented DVR’s – (seriously, that person is a genius). It may be the hardest thing you do, but one day someone else will be forever thankful that you did. I am working on your dad to do the same thing.
Here goes: I want you to know …
Clayton, your dad wanted to name his son Barnabas. This is true, but I loved you too much to allow that to happen. Additionally, Emily wanted to name you Corncob. You are welcome.
Emily, you had the best belly laugh of any baby ever! And you were extremely verbal and creative (you still are). I wore size 7 shoes until I gave birth to you and then my foot grew to a size 8.
I snuggled with you both at naptime, not because I had to or because I was super tired (though I was), but because I wanted to. Snuggling is one of the best parts of being a parent. I loved our afternoon teatimes. They are sweet memories.
Believe it or not, I was very compliant as a child. I wish I had been more fearless, taken more risks and lived more compassionately. I pray you will be less like me in this area as you grow up!
I ate a healthy diet that mainly consisted of the major food groups: fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy and candy. After you were born, I traded my sweets and instead nibbled on your baby toes.
I had two guaranteed highlights of every day: Waking up in the morning to your smiling faces and singing you to sleep each night with renditions of “Create in Me”, “Good Night Emily” and most of the Veggie Tales silly songs.
If either of you were a stranger, I would immediately want to know you better!
I learned to play guitar (self-taught) to be able to lead songs in Spanish when we went on mission trips to Mexico. I used to be pretty good and even taught lessons, but your dad (a music major) was better so I let it go (back to the competence thing). I think one of the most important things in life is speaking another language and that is why we made sure you could read music. I loved words from a young age, wanted to be an interpreter at the UN or translate the Bible into another language. I hope you learn to use your words and to memorize God’s Word. Hiding God’s Word in my heart is one of the best disciplines I ever undertook; it made me smarter and my memory stronger. Please do this!
I made it through life with the help of a lot of amazing friends. I hope you continue to be as blessed in this department as I am. And I pray you get to marry your best friend, like I did!
I am passionate about a lot of things — writing, reading, photography, travel, teatime, playing games (including made up ones like the “freeway game” and heteronyms) — and it is my passion that drives me to be better at everything I do. That passion includes striving to be the best mom in the world.
I wrote my first book in 7th grade – I’m not sure if it even exists anymore. I have had other things actually get published. The Easter Kaleidoscope is still talked about 20+ years later! I tell you this to teach you to never stop chasing your dreams. I want nothing but the best for you.
I was once on an inter-mural softball team called Causey’s clowns. We lived up to our name. I also played powderpuff football, but that was not much better. I grew up in the era before title nine so I wore dresses to school (until middle school) and there were no sports teams for girls like there are today. Instead, I took lessons – sewing, music (piano & clarinet), ice skating and tennis! I was a girl scout, where one highlight was learning to care for a horse named Ginger.
I have collected a variety of things growing up: Candles. Sample size miniatures. Little Kiddles. Rainbows. Seashells. Paper Dolls. Shirley Temple stuff. Postcards or Playing Cards from places I visited. Then, I collected things for you. I wish I had collected less stuff but I think it is the way I remember!
My favorite TV Shows growing up included I Love Lucy, The Brady Bunch, The Waltons, Family Affair, and Happy Days. My favorite movie of all time is the Sound of Music. My favorite singers when I was your age were The Monkees, Sonny & Cher, the Carpenters, the Beach Boys and the Jackson 5. This is like most entertainment. It changes and morphs constantly so it is difficult to make a short, definitive list.
I always wanted to build a well-lit library room in the house, filled wall-to-wall with books and one large, comfortable couch. That way I could read unending stories to you when you were young, as well as read whatever you were reading. Additionally, I know that one day I’ll need to read to myself How to Survive the Empty the Nest and When Your Kid Goes to College: A Parent’s Survival Guide when you are all grown up.
In spite of growing up in a chauvinistic culture, I never believed that being a girl was a liability, even in ministry. Your dad and I are committed to intentionally raising both of you to be colorblind and gender neutral, to try your best and never give up, and to believe the best in everyone.
Here is a random thought that has nothing to do with anything – The designated hitter in baseball is dumb. It has little relevance here, but it’s still an important fact you should know. Shoulder pads are a bad idea too. It is these kinds of little truths and opinions that kept me from letting you watch some shows and movies. You are too smart to spend time and energy absorbing such nonsense and garbage.
I rarely brag about my accomplishments (probably because I don’t have many), but I regularly boast to everyone about how incredibly blessed I am to have such smart, kind, caring, funny, beautiful children. While I’d like to take credit, those are the same characteristics that caused me to fall deeply in love with your dad.
And most important, I love both of you with every molecule of my heart. I wake up every day believing in you, knowing that you’ll grow up to be amazing. You are becoming even more awesome than I could have imagined. Whether or not you believe it, know that I’ll always be with you, in your heart and your memories, watching out for you, protecting you from the spiders in the house, thanking God for the privilege to be called your mom and bragging to everyone in heaven about how fortunate I was to be chosen to be a part of your life.
Thank you both for being my happy thoughts. Trust me: Wherever I am, even in heaven, I’m thinking of you and smiling,
Love, Mom <+><
PS I don’t care what you do with my body after I’m gone so long as you don’t spend too much money on funeral arrangements. I am not there anyway. Don’t forget that I want everyone to sing, “God is bigger than the boogey man” at my service.