I wrote and sent out 30 letters for my 30th birthday: Here’s why.
Two and a half years ago my family suffered a massive loss with the sudden death of my husband’s closest friend. He was like a brother to Derek since they were in diapers, the godfather to our unborn son, and my dear friend. But I never got a chance to tell him how much his presence truly impacted my life, because he died before the thought ever crossed my mind to do so.
He knew he was loved, that he was family—we were never in short supply of “you’re the shit and I love you” moments. But he would never know on this earth that he was the reason I started looking at the world differently. That the way he lived inspired me to grab life by the reigns and embrace it.
Today is my golden birthday. It’s also my 30th. I am 30 on the 30th and I had a tug at my heart months ago that I needed to do something special this year—something different.
I talked to my husband about this burning inside of me for weeks but I just couldn’t come up with anything. Then one night as I lie awake in bed, I began to think about Brian. “Good Old Days” by Macklemore and Kesha played the soundtrack of my visions as I pictured one more night of beer pong with my friend I’d never see again.
I imagined sitting there in between throws, telling him, finally, how crucial his existence was to me becoming who I am now. How he touched so many lives in his short time on this earth. I saw a funeral where the person everyone was telling stories about was still alive. I saw a massive group of people placing words of love on this man before his body left this earth.
It was then that I had an epiphany. How many more people must die first in order for me to share with them the impact they have made on me? Would I make them all wait until the grave?
My answer was clear.
I woke up that next morning, October 5th around 5:30 am, grabbed a pen and some college ruled paper, and got to work.
I made a list of each stage of my life:
- Elementary school
- Middle school
- High school
- Adult life
Then I attached names to each stage. Names that meant something to me. These were the people who shaped who I am in some way, whether big or small. Some were people I had just lost touch with along the way. Others were friends that I had hurt that were never given the apology they deserved. I included teachers, relatives, and even a few people I’ve never actually met in person, like bloggers who’s messages have impacted me.
The list reached far over 30, so I narrowed it down to people I knew I had never actually said these things to before. My mom, for example, knows that she plays a massive role in who I am because we talk about it all the time.
I thought of it like this: If everyone on this list died, who among them would have left this earth without ever knowing the influence they had on me?
Each letter was written by hand because I wanted it to be as personal as possible. Every morning for 22 days I woke up and wrote a letter or two. I sat in meditation before each one so that I could really think about that person and what I wanted to say to them, and then I wrote.
By the 27th, I was ready to send them all out and by today, everyone (or almost everyone) should be receiving theirs in the mail.
My hope is that today, on my 30th Birthday, 30 other people out there are feeling special and loved. That 30 people now know how important they have been to me in this lifetime.
This project lit a fire in me. I feel like I have so many more letters to write, more people to thank. I don’t think I’ll stop until I’m done.
So here’s to the big 3-0.
I plan to use my thirties to love on people as much as I can. I want to wrap others up in blankets of encouragement and I never want to see a day again where someone leaves this earth before I’ve had the chance to tell them how special they are.
I keep thinking that if we learned to love people like they’re gone, before they’re buried in the ground, we could change this world.
So if you’re reading this, you’ve been a part of my life, and you didn’t receive a letter from me yet—I’m coming for you. 😉
*Images were taken by Brenda Munoz Photography