Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Letter...

I’m sitting in the airport in Phoenix waiting to board my flight to Ft. Lauderdale where I will meet up with my lifelong friend Amy and embark the Independence of the Seas for the “Susan Saner Davenport 40th Birthday Cruise.” 40…Wow. Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I never gave turning 40 a bit of thought. Why would I? There wasn’t any reason to worry about getting “old.” And then suddenly, without warning, turning 31 didn’t look good…35 less than a 5% chance and 40…well, that was a pipe dream at best.

And yet here I am.

I don’t know why I have been blessed…and let’s be honest, spared. I’ve watched so many friends and fellow cancer patients lose their battles to this horrible disease and yet here I stand preparing to do what some (and even I at times) thought was impossible. To me, it’s nothing short of a miracle…and further proof that WE are the Captains of our destiny and that so much of our life is dependent on how good the “crew” is that we choose to surround ourselves with. There is no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be here right now if not for the incredible support system that I have, the medical team that has been fighting for me and the fact that I am a stubborn, hard-headed chick who doesn’t like to be told what to do…especially when “what” has anything to do with dying.

I’ve always thought that when you turned 40, you were supposed to have “it” together. I don’t even know what to do with “it,” much less how to get “it” together. What I do know, though, is that while I wouldn’t make any wholesale changes to my life, I sure would love to go back in time and impart some of the wisdom of these years to the girl I used to be. So, in honor of this dubious occasion, I’ve decided to honor the years that I’ve lived…and the years that are still to come with the following letter to…

10 year old me…
Dear Susan,

I know that it hurts to leave your best friend, Amy, on 69th Terrace in Prairie Village and move to Wellsville, but I promise you that it will be ok. You will come to think of Wellsville as your hometown and the people that you meet there as your family. You will cherish the experiences and friendships that you make there, you will respect the work ethic that you learn growing up there and you will be forever grateful for the time that you get to spend with your Grandma Booth. Here’s the best thing though, this move will teach you that distance means nothing with true friendship. Your friendship with Amy will grow as the two of you do and there won’t be a major…or not so major event…in either of your lives that the other one isn’t a part of. You are now…and will always be…best friends. It’s going to be ok. I promise!

15 year old me…
Dear Susan,

I know it seems like the end of the world now, but I promise you that when you are 40, it really won’t matter that “he” doesn’t and didn’t notice you. Someday he will…and by then, you will have moved on. The memory of the time and energy that you put into this one sided love affair will someday make you smile…and, in reality, will provide relief as you realize that if you had gotten what you wanted then, you might not be living the life you have now. Everything happens for a reason, dear girl. Keep your chin up and keep plugging away. Like fine wine, some things really do get better with age. You are one of them!

25 Year Old Me…
Dear Susan,

Someday the friend that you are falling in love with will break your heart. Stay the course. There are great lessons to be learned in this relationship. When all is said and done, you will emerge friends…fiercely loyal to each other…and equally pleased not to be married to each other anymore. I am proud of you…and you should be proud of you, for the way that you will handle yourself during the divorce. Class act, baby!

I’m not going to tell you not to beat yourself up, because you “failed” at marriage, because I know that you will anyway…what I am going to tell you, though, is that the lessons that you learn from that failure will serve you well as you grow older. At 40, you will know exactly what you want and don’t want out of a relationship…and it will be clear that settling will never be an option! “He’s” out there…or he’s not…either way, you’ll be fine!

30 Year Old Me…
Dear Susan,

They’ve told you that you are going to die. It’s true…you will, but not on their terms. Listen to your gut. If it feels right, do it. If it doesn’t, don’t allow yourself to be talked into it. This is YOUR life. Don’t ever forget that.
Research all you can on nutrition and alternative therapies. Tell the people that you love…that you do indeed love them…as often as you can. Cut the dead weight out of your life! Don’t be ashamed of that beautiful bald head. Wear that badge with honor, because you will earn it ten-fold! When someone tells you that something is only going to hurt “a little,” don’t believe them. When someone asks you how you feel, don’t tell most of them the truth. When your best friend asks you, be open and honest…even though it will hurt her, she really wants to know and she can take it. Don’t ever give up your dream of a future…your ability to laugh…and the knowledge of the relief that comes from a really good cry. It’s ok to be afraid, but don’t ever allow yourself to be paralyzed by fear. You are a genuine hard chick with a soft, gooey filling…the best kind of woman.

And, never forget that it’s ok to lose…as long as you didn’t give up!

35 Year Old Me…
Dear Susan,

He’s not worth it. He will only bring heartache and pain…and take years to truly get over. Keep walking…or as the British say, “Keep Calm and Carry On.” This, dear girl, might just be the best piece of advice that I am able to impart. Think about it…smile…and then walk…no RUN…away!

Learn to listen with your head and your heart. Have the guts to make the move. Don’t take it personally, because sometimes it has nothing at all to do with you. Take the opportunity to enjoy your parents while you can. Fill up other people’s buckets, but don’t forget to ration or you won’t have anything left in your own. Don’t ever stop caring as much as you do…it’s one of the things that makes “you” – you. Jealousy and anger are wasted emotions…let them go. It really is “only money.” Don’t let a few sprinkles…or even a downpour…ruin an otherwise perfect day. Be open to the possibility. And, get ready for an amazing ride, because the next five years will be incredible.

40 Year Old Me…
Dear Susan,

You made it! I’ve been waiting for you and so has…


To be continued…

2 comments:

Vic said...

Cruise on, Susan!  I am over a quarter of a century ahead of you...  I still don't have it all figgered out.  But I can see you've already learned lessons some of us will never master.

The Lytle Family said...

Your words always bring a tear to the eye and a SMILE to the face!