Dear, dear Debbie,
Even though it doesn’t feel like it, you are the same feisty, fearless girl that in Elizabeth City loved playing drums in the Simons’ garage, playing shortstop on your t-ball team, and being sassy to grownups.
You are the same child who, in Alabama enchanted your big brother’s friends with an uncanny ability to catch anything thrown to you and taught yourself to swim. You are that little girl who was the pet of the neighborhood and considered it her due.
In Puerto Rico, you were so fierce and wild, you were almost feral. You rode bikes like a hellion, swam in every available body of water, rode horses for hours with no one for company except for your pony. The cliff that surrounded the base never scared, only fascinated you, climbing up and down the coral face that rose hundreds of feet over the Atlantic Ocean.
Then it was time to move from the island and your world was dismantled. Your beloved horse, Coqui was sold. Your big brother, who’d moved to Puerto Rico, was staying and would be left behind again. Possessions were packed up and sent ahead to our new home here in San Diego.
But leaving was made easier after Jeremy Parrish, wasn’t it?
To this day I wonder what kind of anger and hurt drove him to what he did. That awful scene; so cliched and petty yet so very devastating.
I don’t know if he had a plan the day he held your hand throughout the showing of The Apple Dumpling Gang at the base theater, but those ninety minutes were enough for you to cultivate a huge crush on him. Even though it could only last for a few weeks, all you thought about was becoming his girlfriend.
Finally, in a quiet corner at the base pool, he asked you to “go with him”.
Such a rush of happiness. Even now I can still remember the feeling of our heart swelling with giddiness. Of course, we said yes.
What he said in return changed your entire world. “Debbie Ross, I wouldn’t go with you if you were the last girl on earth.” And from nowhere the deserted dining area seemed to fill with every sixth and seventh-grader at Ramey school—all of them laughing.
To this day, I cringe when I think of those hurtful words. And, more than forty years later I still don’t understand why he would do such a thing.
But he did.
It kind of broke us though. Our confidence, trust in the affection from others, and acceptance was immolated. You began to suspect that most friendly gestures had ulterior motives. And even though you haven’t been the object of such public cruelty since, you still wonder if your mere presence tries the patience of those around you.
You have a loving generous heart, and there are people who not only love you but relish being around you. You are not tolerated, you’re enjoyed and appreciated. There are people around you now, and there will be people throughout your life, that you bring great pleasure to.
Here’s the thing: in the final accounting, what other people think of you doesn’t really matter.
You are absolutely enough.
All by yourself.
Debbie, who knows why people do the things they do? Even now, I can’t tell you why I do half the things I do.
Hold yourself to honorable standards always but honor yourself as well. The world, as you have discovered can be a very hard place.
So, always be your own soft place to fall.
With so much love,
Thanks for your time.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.