There will be them days when all that will seem reliable is a chunky cable knit sweater hanging in your closet that, to your own knowledge, has never let you down before.
On them days, pull the wool over your head, push up the cowl neck, and invest all your faith in stitching and a chunky sweater.
There will be them days when you wish you could pull sentences from the sky, make words out of treasures you’ve found while sifting through the Lost & Found bin to tell a person how you really feel. But all that will come out are fragments.
On them days, find a sweet rhythm in the stuttering and the stammering. Simply delight in the person who makes the simplest syllables—I miss you, I love you, I need you—the hardest to recite. Maybe even say this: You Make All the Letters In My Alphabet Shake. The Qs Quiver. The Rs Rattle. (They’ll find you truly poetic then.)
There will be them days when the only adoration you get is from a John Mayer song that he recorded seven years ago about daughters. And you’ll think to yourself, wouldn’t it be lovely to be the girl who puts the colors inside of the world? On them days, keep your earphones plugged in until the end of the song, until Mr. Mayer tells you straight, “boys would be gone without warmth from a woman’s good, good heart.”
There will be them days where the Missing gets thick.
Thicker than molasses. Thicker than the chocolate current that took Augustus Gloop down in Wonka’s headquarters. You’ll curse songs on the radio that bring the Boy You Thought to Miss back. Your bones will ache for conversations where his name sits beside more than just some past tensed verbs.
On them days, let the Missing keep you. People will tell you not to look at old photographs or cry over love letters. I say, get yo’ salty groove on but promise to let it go at the end of the night. For your own good. For the doors that need to close before God props open that window people always talk about. We are human beings—looking back undoubtedly gets laced somewhere in our DNA, even if seems to hold the nutritional value of chewing gum.
There will be them days when all you will wish for is someone who knows your name.
You’ll grow tired of being The Girl on the Train. The Young Woman in the cafe. On them days, give people a good mystery. Find that man with the notepad and glasses. Sit down right on his lap, swipe a hand across his cheek, and put a pencil between your teeth. And then get up. And walk off the train.
Give people a reason to write you into story lines and poems that get recited in the underground coffee shops of Chicago. Make him wonder if your name is Clare. Rita. Siobhan. Rachel. Anything but the letters your mother stacked alongside one another to call you home when the street lights came on.
There will be them days when you wish to be anything but.
Anything but here. Anything but the girl whose skin you woke up inside. And you’ll only dream of curling up in balls and corners, waiting for the night to take you back to bed again.
On them days, breathe. Recognize that you’re human. Handhold a latte that’s sweeter than your usual pick. Purse it between two hands and just feel. Whatever it is. However raw or painful or distracting it wants to be. Just let it wash over you. Don’t try to even push it out the way.
There will be them days when all you have the strength to do is sit—square in the middle of the kitchen table that still holds your initials from childhood—and pair spoonfuls of peanut butter with a carton of vanilla bean ice cream. One more bite, that’s it. Just one more bite.
On them days, go for creamy instead of chunky. Go until the gentle reminder pushes its way inward: Food won’t heal you. Food won’t fix you. Put the Big Spoon down, Little One. I love you too much to watch this pain.
There will be them days when you’ll scrape the polish right off of your fingers. Freckles of Gold and Blue falling to the floor of the car. And you’ll look down at your hands in discouragement. What do you want of me? The question will sit in your throat. What am I here for?
On them days, take out a piece of paper and write it down. All the Places Your Hands Have Been. The letters they’ve written. The wrists they’ve touched. The wounds they’ve bandaged. The children they’ve held. The stories they’ve grasped in their Tiny Palms.
And marvel. Just marvel at the good Two Hands can bring to a world in need.
Then place those Hands of Yours upon your hips. Pull up the cowl of your chunky wool sweater once again. Go outside. And face the world.
Hannah Brencher is a writer, speaker, and creator pinning her passion to projects that bring the human touch back into the digital age. After spending a year writing and mailing over 400 love letters to strangers across the world, Hannah launched The World Needs More Love Letters in August 2011—a global organization fueled by volunteer “letter writers,” now in fifty states and forty-seven countries. She’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Oprah, Glamour, the White House Blog, and is currently a global finalist for the TED2013 Global Talent Search (watch the TED Talk). You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.