As I write this, I can picture you in your place and time…seems like eons ago. What book do you have your head buried in at the moment? Shakespeare? Joshua Harris? Or some romantic novel that gives flight to your own wishes?
I know you do these things right now to help you get through Hilda’s loss; to somehow make it more bearable; to help you forget. My dear, with the benefit of hindsight, I can tell you that it is impossible to forget the loss of a sister so precious, especially with the unique bond shared. She was more than a sister by birth, she was a friend in every sense of the word, and her loss will always be felt. You still have many years ahead when you will shed tears, but be comforted. However, as the years go by, behind every tear, there will be a small smile because you will be left with beautiful memories that slowly make the pain more bearable with each year. I know it may not seem like that can ever be possible, but it is. Embrace the friends who have come to be with you, not everyone has that gift. Open up to them; let them share in your pain as they have often shared in your joys. Be grateful for their friendships; some of them will need your support soon, and you will be strong for them as they have been for you.
Still on friendships; you are fortunate to have the ones you do have, but try to cultivate some more; not just because you want to study people, but have them because you want to enjoy people. Friendship is one of the best gifts given to mankind. Some of the relationships you have now will span over two decades, maybe even more, and will make your life so much richer. People will come and go in your life; few will remain with you for a very long time to come. Be sure that some of those who remain with you are not among those who should have left you, while those who leave were actually supposed to remain with you. This is very important, especially as you grow older. You will find in no time that some people are so much more an integral part of your growth and self discovery than you think at the moment; be sure not to lose touch with them.
My dear Florence, I realize you are eighteen; beautiful, smart and with the sparkle of youth that is alluring. As I recall, you have started having offers of the romantic sort. Don’t get carried away; hold out for true love. In a few years you’ll have the principal honour of meeting and falling in love with one of the most amazing men of your acquaintance, and that singular relationship will change you and your perspective on life in the most unexpected ways. Like all relationships, this one will come fully loaded with its challenges, and herein lies one of the biggest lessons I have learnt so far; you’ve got to know what you want out of life, relationships and every endeavour in your life. Relationships are never easy to cultivate, they take a lot of hard work, but if you are in a relationship that is worth keeping, then do all you can to keep that relationship without losing your own identity.
The best starting point for that is to know yourself as no other person may ever know you. Don’t be a stranger to yourself. In the years to come, you will be heard saying, “Man, know thyself”, live it. Take time to study the inner workings of your heart, always answer ‘why?’ to everything you do, even when it is not required of you. Really knowing yourself is an asset which can only appreciate in value as you grow older. You are fortunate enough to have an inkling of who you are and your place and purpose, but that inkling will only take you so far. Now is the time to begin to grow that little seedling of self awareness into a beautiful oak tree under whose shade many like you may begin to embark on their own individual journeys of self-discovery. It is important that you embark on this journey purposefully; you will not discover who you are by accident. It requires discipline, often of mind and body. When you know who you are, it becomes easier knowing what you have to offer…and you have so much to offer.
One lesson I have learnt which I eagerly pass on is that the decision on who you marry is the singular most important decision you will have to make as an adult woman, because it affects every other area of your life; your career, pursuits, passions and most importantly, your purpose. When the time comes to make that decision, do not take it lightly. Your selected lifetime partner should be the one with whom you can share your dreams, desires and ambitions. Never take decision making lightly. If you ever want to go with your gut when making a decision, make sure your gut is well informed. Never make a life altering decision when you are angry. Always think things through before you opt for a line of action. If ever you get stuck, be practical; draw up a ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ table if you must. Weigh all your choices carefully, pray, think and if you are still stuck and need help, seek counsel.
Have you written in your little book today? The one you keep away from prying eyes? If you haven’t, ensure you do. Some of those things you write will eventually get published. Remember your love of books.Your passion for books will not change, so take your academic pursuits seriously. You will have the chance to prove yourself; you will have the chance to grow in leaps and bounds academically; grab it with both hands. The efforts you put in today will eventually give birth to the career you will have tomorrow.
You are an exceptional young woman with uncommon talents and skills. Never lose sight of that. Develop your innate abilities, have confidence in the woman you are today, and the woman you will be tomorrow. You are a rising star set to give light to others, be the woman you were born to be. Remember always that you are made for more.
To your rising,
Florence (a decade and a half later)