A Letter from my Heart

jean elizabeth miller
July 28, 1995

It's easy to acknowledge that all of the days in the first 50 years of my life contributed significantly to who I am today. Ah, if only I could invoke the excitement of each and every one of them in order to carry that same enthusiam forward to however many more days I'm given!

Would that the ageless sands of time move us from one sheltered harbor to another. Oh, how simple our lives would be! Instead, I believe, they cast us violently out to sea during a turbulent storm only to cleanse us and gently place us back on the shore; a little stronger, a lot more understanding. With each storm we're more polished, beautiful.

It's as though we venture from day to day, especially as children and adolescents; absorbing those intricate life settings which captured our curiosity and satisfied our quench for life experiences. Nothing seems to escape us as we take in everyone! Everything! Never enough time!! Whether real or fictional, we absorbed something from it all and delicately stored it in the cockles of our mind. Life, like a treasured, old, stained glass; is fragile, beautiful, hypnotic. Always changing, ever developing us, into whoever it is we are today. Don't get me wrong, we knew "who" we were of course! Just ask us.

Ha! We were naive fragile creatures with emerging identities!! Starting with the basic foundation genetics provides, we forever expand this by the thousand emotions we witnesses and/or experience daily. Some saved to emulate for life, or temporarily, depending on it's significance. Others, injustices, kept deeply locked which would guide our sense of right from wrong throughout our lives.

To those who have known me over the years I am constant, one who seldom changes. Dependable, strong. To myself, I have been many things since the age of ten. You see, I remember understanding that I was an individal at 10; no longer dependent on others to identify who I was. Through the years I have been articulate and outspoken, quiet and withdrawn, giver and taker, sarcastic and empathetic, student and teacher, forgiving and unforgiving, superwoman and child. All of these traits are exposed to those around me on a daily basis, however most never "see" more than one or two, if any. The two constants I would acknowledge is that of always having been a hard worker and one who has always been truthful.

To a fault above all else I was, still am and am probably damned to be, my harshest critic. This, more than anything, I feel has contributed greatly to who I am. Every situation which I feel needs more defining before accepting, I will take into a cocoon like a puzzle. Sometimes I bring along the guidance given by friends and family. This "thing" is digested then spit out and reshaped then dissected into a million pieces. Then I put it all together into something I can understand and live with. This may only take a few hours; the more complex may take months of soul searching. And then, it is done. Finished. Very, very, rarely looked at again. Unforgiving? Sometimes, but necessary.

The most rarest and treasured gift woven into the fibers of my being, since memory can be recalled, is that of friendship. When moving around the world constantly; always a new neighborhood, a new school, new people every year, I was forced to learn the multiple complexities and traits of human nature, or be devoured. Children are the cruelest little creatures! I learned a childs life was not as pure and naive as we were told to believe. After observing a few role models, the skill of cunningly assessing a person, quietly until their true character surfaced (believe me, it will) was learned. All the little idiosyncrasies are not important, they are inherent traits we all possess. When all is summed up, people are either good at heart, bad at heart or sometimes worse, indifferent. Period. It was those who demonstrated in some small way to be good of heart that I would let into my inner sanctum and try to earn their respect and friendship.

The value and strength of friends is everlasting. The warm memories we hold the dearest, more than likely, are of those times shared with friends.

The first most treasured gift we are given, besides life itself, is our reputation. A "reputation" really isn't established until we first enter school and are subjected to the scrutiny of those outside of the family who, thank heavens, always thinks you're the most precious thing to ever breathe!! Most of us, as adolescents, are guided/coerced/threatened, etc., with the fact that our reputation is very delicate and must be protected at almost any cost. Naturally! What else can we think except here they (adults) go again, trying to scare us just like telling us we're going to hell if we do something bad! So, who really cares if you have a "reputation" for being the fastest skater, the best speller, the funniest kid on the block or someone who lies in confession? Jeez, won't they ever stop telling us what to do!

And then, usually in our teens sometime, "it" happens. Whatever "it" is, you most likely didn't even realize you had taken part in "it". Unless, of course, it's something you do that's really stupid and "it" causes you to go to jail or be expelled or some other horrible thing that your parents must find out about! No, it's definitely not being the best athlete, student, cheerleader, girl/boy scout., etc.! It's the other "it", the one that's the most damning, 'cause it is the one that gives you the "reputation" which makes you (in others eyes) stand out. You've obviously defied one of their creed of acceptable behaviors, therefore immediately giving them the power to ostracize you. Maybe "it's" for having sex, or dressing/acting different or being friendly with "them" , etc., etc., etc.. This is one of the first most painful lessons in the importance of our reputation and of our understanding that self-righteous groups (i.e. more than one person) can have a capacity to harm when they ban together, if they so choose. One of my most favorite sayings is "Mortal: Frail, easier to hurt than to heal". There is a lesson here; you either feed on this learned power to control/hurt others or you gain a deeper respect for the frailty of a human being and try to respect it for the rest of your life. The choice is yours.

Choices. Simply put, that is what life is all about. We choose to do everything that we do in our adult life. Understanding this can make life so much more pleasant!! How we conduct ourselves. Where we live. Who we love and respect. Who we don't. What we do for a living. How we live each day of our life. These are all choices. If you're not making your own choices on those things that affect your life then you are least likely to accept them and be happy with the decision/your life. No one else can make choices for you. Only you can fully weigh the advantages or disadvantages your decision may have on you and, possibly, others.

Yes, in a relationship (personal or working), others must be taken into consideration when weighing major decisions. It is best if those type of decisions are collaborated, with a little give and take. However, don't totally compromise your needs to the extent where you will resent the other(s) or yourself for the decision you allow to be made. I'm not saying to deliberately go forth and make choices which you know will hurt others just to satisfy your needs. In any interpersonal relationship there is a certain amount of negotiation required to get a win-win situation.

Just remember, ultimately you and only you are the one who has to live with the decision. So, you damn well better make sure it's something you're willing to accept. If it bothers someone else, than that is their choice. That's life!.

In answers to my prayers as a younger person (to have a house full of children and loving husband) God, in his infinite wisdom, blessed me with my daughter Kelly. At least I got one out of several answered!!! We can learn a lot by being a parent. Patience has never been as important as it is then. The endless joys of watching our child grow and the almost reverent feeling, when trying to instill in them the values you feel will carry them through their life, they listen. The importance of being an individual. Of your reputation, and friends. To respect yourself (to your own self be true). Our dreams now become ones of their success as a happy, fully adjusted, adult. For them to be blessed with love. And to always try to shelter them from harm, physical or mental.

To have these dreams shattered is devastating in itself. To lose your child suddenly or to watch them die, very slowly, is not a choice anyone I know would make or wish upon another. You would give your very soul so willingly to spare your child from being robbed of their chance to live. It seems so very unfair that they've never had (or won't have) the opportunity to be as truly free as an independent adult can be. Never to know the love of someone in a marriage, or that of being a parent. The chance to grow old. All those years of that guidance, and love and training wasted. They'll never get to use it. Oh, my god, we think - if we'd only known we would have made every second happier than the second before it! Screw all the lectures on morality and right from wrong, etc.., just be happy my sweet, sweet child. You'll always be my baby. Momma will protect you. And, you can't. No matter how hard you pray, scream silently or cry your eyes out, you can't. There really aren't any words to comfort you. How very easy it would be to let this only true tragedy be all consuming of your life.

I don't know why I've written this, it suddenly had to come out. Maybe it's because I've seen so many people afraid of death lately that they can't confront it. Some say I shouldn't be faced with the burden of watching Kelly die. Most respect my choice. To the others, I say what burden? If she had been taken from me suddenly I wouldn't have been given this chance to try and make her life as loving and as comforting that I can. To try to give her a little piece of joy. It is those who cannot face her who will lose the most because precious seconds they will never, never get a second chance at are slowly slipping away. Physically, she is not "herself", ah but mentally she is acutely aware of everything around her.

Life. I wrote recently that we are all born with a terminal illness, it's called life. Life is a wondrous thing. The indescribable beauty of a magnificent sunrise/sunset. The brilliant colors of flowers and blooming trees. Autumn. The feel of mother earth in your fingers, the sun kissing your face, the wind embracing your skin and sand in your toes. The little creatures and big creatures who roam the once abundant land. The joy you feel in your heart at the things which bring you the most pleasure. The peace and contentment you feel when things are right. And then there's love. Love is a fabulous thing! It makes you radiant! It makes the world a wonderful place to be. The love of family. Love of friends. Love of a significant other. Love of earth. Love of yourself. And, if you're blessed, the purest love of children. One could be disheartened and ask what is it all really for? Why do we need to be of good character, love our fellow man, and lead a decent life etc. if we all live only to die? Because, what kind of life would we have otherwise? Life is really something to celebrate and rejoice in.

I think the loss of a loved one also has a gift to give too. The chance to understand how priceless life really is. And if you do learn this, you walk this earth with a deeper respect for your own life and that of others. Almost suddendly there is very little that can truly hurt you. Everything else seems mundane. It's a shame this final lesson comes at such a great price. Yes, honey, Momma is here. God willing, I will be til you no longer need me and are free again.

Converted to HTML by Renette Davis with permission from the author, Jean Miller.

Send comments to Renette by clicking here and comments for Jean to: miller_jean_e@space.honeywell.com

Last updated: Dec. 3, 2010