Dear 16yo me

Dear 16 year me,

First of all, I want to tell you that it won’t always be this hard.  Life won’t always be this hard on you, and as unbelievable as it may seem right now, YOU won’t always be this hard on you.  You’re a little different, a little quirky, and you feel like no one understands you.  You’re sad that no one even seems to try.  People are cruel to you, but one day you’ll realise that, while they make your life a misery now, it’s only because they fear what they don’t understand, and then you will able to offer them the true compassion that they never showed you.

In a couple of years, you will go off to university.  You will be trying to work out how to make a new start, one where you will be able to be the same as everyone else.  Where you will fit in, and never ever ever stick out.  Then you will go on fresher camp, and play a “getting to know you game”, where everyone at first has to find out what the world calls you.  Name and surname, please.  You’ll be in the infancy of your drinking career by then, and you will decide to name yourself after your hair (those hated curls that later you will wish you had back), and the nickname one of your few childhood friends calls you, and declare to the room that you are “Moppy Blanket”.  You’ll realise that you have forgotten to be the girl who sinks into the wallpaper, and you will wait for the floor to swallow you whole.  Instead, the laughter will bring the house down, and for the rest of your university life, you will be known as Moppy.  You will meet people that will know you for years and never actually know that your real name is Julia.  You won’t mind, honest.  That night at fresher camp will sew a seed, this will be the night you realise that it might be possible for people to like you JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.  It will be many, many years before you fully realise the power in that lesson.

A few years later you will move to London, fall in love, and float down the aisle in a white dress.  I’m sorry to tell you that this won’t be the fairytale, and you will part long before the “til death do us”….This will be a hard time, there will be angst and there will be pain, but this will make way for the real once upon a time.  You won’t have to be patient long, I promise.  Better times are coming.

One day, before too long, you will be at a bar, and meet a guy atop a Harley Davidson.  OK, it’s not a carriage, but you will decide it’s fit for a princess like you.   A few years later, that man will stand at your side as a brand new baby girl is placed on your chest.  I know right now you don’t think you are good enough to be someones lover, or someones mother, but I’m telling you now, this child will be a masterpiece, and so will be the three that come after her.  One day you will stand next to the man that you love, and you will look over everything you made, and you will know the pure and terrifying love that at the moment you don’t even dare to dream about.

Let me talk to you for a minute about that fourth child.  She will emerge screaming into the light, that child who will complete your family, but she will come with something a little extra.  Her neck will be a little  floppy, and her beautiful eyes will be shaped like almonds.  You will realise that she looks a little like someone you knew, but it’s not her sisters.  No, she will look a bit like that little kid that lived down the road when you were in your teens.  The one with Down syndrome.  You’re going to think you can’t do this, but I promise you, this child will be the making of you, a gift that you’ve been given.  By now, you will understand what the word love means, but this child, well, she will put the word “unconditional” in front of it.  Some people go through their whole lives not knowing the pure poetry when those two words go side by side.  You will know.

You’re going to be settled and happy, in a way you could never imagine now.  And you’re going to get to do it for a while too, until one day, when you’re 42,  You will start to feel sick, and a doctor will tell you that you have cancer.  Cancer that has begun it’s lethal march from it’s starting position, and the doctors will tell you there WILL be a finish line, and it’s not going to be awfully far away.  You will feel like all the dreams you finally dared to dream have turned to dust.  The ones that thought were in your future, and the ones that you already hold in your arms.

I can tell you that the following 14 months will not be easy, but they will be worth it.  After the shock has settled down, and I promise you that it will, you will begin your best year.  This will be the year that you will find strength that you never, ever dreamed you’d have.  You will experience many horrors, both physical and mental, but you’ll have friends to help you through it.  I’m freaking you out now, aren’t I?  Yes friends, PLURAL.  So many that you won’t be able to count them.  Because, some time in the year two thousand and thirteen, you will realise that the lesson you started to learn 25 years ago in the wilds of the You Yangs has come full circle.  Because some time in that year, you will realise that you don’t have the energy or the inclination to try to be someone you are not, and you will show people who you ARE.  And you’re not going to believe this, but they’ll like you.  You’ll be all right 16 year old self.  I love you, and I know you don’t believe it now, but one day, YOU’LL love you.

When you are 43 years and 11 months old, you are going to have to do something really brave.   Something that will carry the greatest risk that you will ever take in your  life, in fact you will have to take this risk WITH your life.  You’ll be ok, kid.  At the other side of this darkness, there is light, a place where all things are possible.  I’ll see you there.

Much love and hope,

Your 43 year old self.

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32 Comments on “Dear 16yo me

    • Julia you are amazing, what a journey you and your family are on! I sense a calm overlaying the terror and I love how you talk to your 16 year old self, you have become the wise woman, scarred through battles but kinder, wiser and wittier. I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow and praying/hoping that all will be well, I feel it will be. I would love to meet you one day you gorgeous woman. Red is go!! love xx

  1. Julia Ive never met you but I just know if I’d known you at 16 I would have fucking loved you. Youre ace. Sending strength to you and yours
    Geri x

  2. Sending you as much love as a stranger can without seeming too strange. I’m a Melbourne mum of four too and would love to meet you when the dust has settled. Pop me on the wait list-I think you have heaps of fans x

  3. I’m thinking of you and sending you every ounce of positive energy that I can find. I just know you’ll get through this. Thank you for sharing your journey, I look forward to reading about the next 40 years of your life xo

  4. This has not been your best year – it’s only been your best year YET!!!!

    I only know you from EB and this blog, but I don’t just like you, I feel like I know you and love you. I wish I knew you, I wish I could rub some of your awesomeness on my kids, so that they know that people like you exist, and that they too, could grow up just like you! (Especially my quirky mis-fit 9 year old boy who is just starting to feel the pain of being different). Your girls are, and will be, amazing, because of you.

    Thank you, thank you. You have changed me. You make be want to be a better person.

    And thank you most of all for sharing this journey. I am going through it with a very close friend right now, and you are inspiring me in ways that help me support him. I hope the energy and inspiration you have given to others, to randoms like me, comes back to you 10-fold in the next few days.

    I can’t wait to read your book. xxxxx

  5. Amazing letter Julia. Think about you often and hoping for nothing but the best for you and your beautiful family.

  6. I think you are amazing, and I wish you all the very best for tomorrow.

    I was out walking the dog last night and I saw a shooting star. I wished for your health and happiness – bloody hope it works.

    Etta

  7. Absolutely beautiful. I have tears streaming down my face… I loved this… it’s filled with so much compassion and tenderness…

  8. Yet another fantastic installation in what has been some of the most refreshingly raw writing I’ve ever read. Soooooo many people go through life in mono, never looking for or expecting anything else. Your life up until now has been nothing but vibrant, shimmering technicolour…

    I’ll be cooking up a storm all day tomorrow and thinking of you Julia. Add me to the entourage of people you’re going to have to meet (not sure if you realise what you’ve gotten yourself into here?!) once you’re feeling better. A book most certainly awaits and, like JJ, I can’t wait to read it.

    Sending abundant love. That said, I know you’re going to be just fine x

  9. Julia. Thank you for sharing so much of your beautiful heart and soul through your blog.
    I hope today is an unforgettable day of Firsts, not lasts as you hinted at last week.
    Tomorrow is my birthday. Take my wish and use it as you please xxx
    All on red!

  10. Hi Jules,
    I have been reading your blog for about a month. I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer about 4 months ago and I am also a mum (to just two).
    I’ve just turned 44 and I know the nauseating fear of leaving my babies. I thank you for your beautiful writing and your inspirational attitude. No amount of counselling has helped like reading your blog, a how-to guide to getting my head around this. Good luck tomorrow, I look forward to reading your posts when you are back on deck.
    Cate

  11. Jules from a stranger – I am thinking of you tomorrow. You blog is something that I have been refreshing at a somewhat stalkerish rate to see how you are. My best wishes for you tomorrow – GO RED!
    I have a question for you though that I cannot find on your blog or on EB. What were your symptoms that made you get checked in the first place? Or was it just a general check up that the discovery was made?

    • Wind, bloating, stomach cramps, constipation, and just before I was diagnosed, bleeding. If you have any of these, don’t ignore them x

  12. Dear Julia,

    Every Thursday I read your beautiful words (introduced to me via Dev and her brilliant Gunnas workshop), sitting in a comfy chair, as every Thursday is Chemo day. I too have Stage 4, diagnosed whilst my youngest was still breastfeeding. My doctor wrote “tragedy” on my file, though my life over the last five years has been anything but.

    I identify with your heartbreaking and difficult times and your inspiring kite-flying joys. I love that you are writing about it all. I send you love, hope and courage. And after you recover, I’d love to share a champagne with you. X meg

  13. Ahhh fuck Jules … ya finally brought me to tears. I haven’t cried for a long time, but I am crying right now. I don’t pretend to understand what it is like knowing that tonight might be the last time you will ever sleep in your own bed. Or that last time you fix breakfast for the children. Or the last night you might ever spoon up to your man and feel like the world around you has just disappeared for a few hours.

    I cannot imagine what that would be like. But you do and I know you must be absolutely terrified – I would be. But which ever way it goes you can feel content knowing that you have touched many, many people’s lives, and changed their worlds for ever just that little bit, or maybe a lot.

    I just want you to know you are not going into that operating theatre on your own. We will all be there with you, and God, whoever or whatever IT is, will be looking over you as well. Perhaps my sister Vicki will also be looking over you. If you do ever meet up with her in you dreams please say I said I love her and I still miss her terribly even though it has been longer since she died than all the time I cherished her as my only sister.

    You will be ok Jules. Whichever way things turn out you will be ok. God never gives you more than you can handle all in one day. You might think it does, but think of a time when you didn’t get through just one day at a time … ?

    My love goes with you and I will be thinking of you tomorrow. And I hope with all my fingers, toes and eyes crossed that we will catch up after all these years one day and have a good old laugh at life together. Life is a caberet … and we are all only players on the stage of this amazing thing we call living our lives.

    Take care and see you on the other side of tomorrow.

    Dim

  14. Oh Jules, how absolutely beautiful and touching this is. I want to send it to my nieces and anyone who has suffered. You are an extraordinary human being, and writer of poignancy. Wow. Love your guts and hope all goes well tomorrow. XXXX

  15. Dearest julia,
    I sit here in tears – happy sad tears!!! Like so many others that have commented – I would love to meet you.
    I have been following your journey – and I reel privileged to have been allowed to tag along.
    I feel personally and emotionally invested in your family, in you . Like others have said – in my gut , my heart of hearts – I know that tomorrow is going to be just fine – and every day after that better and better. Nothing is without struggle – without sacrifice – and your 16 year old self knew this – deep deep down.
    I am an oncology nurse, mother of 5, wife, . I go by so many different names – but the badge I wear most proudly is that of supporter -…….that of friend.
    You don’t know me – but I feel like I know you. Thank you for sharing this journey with me – I feel privileged to have come along for the ride. In my mind, my heart – this journey will continue. We have all purchased return tickets – yours is the first class seat. Sending positive joo joo and more love and hope than can be put into words.
    My inbox eagerly awaits your next instalment – cos I know it will be there soon.
    Xxxfiona

  16. Wow. I never ever in a million years could imagine you as an awkward teenager. Someone who longed for friends! So many times I have longed to be more like you. Someone who is loved as much as you are.
    Since the very first time I saw Georgia on the DSDU page, I have always felt a pull towards you and towards her. Maybe knowing this about the younger you answers the why. Because you know the pain of not fitting in. And you have love and compassion that is so obvious to everyone, because you know what it is like to feel unloved.
    Somehow, I think you aren’t finished here yet. You have more to do. You are just beginning. And I look forward to being able to rejoice with you in the coming weeks cxx

  17. What do I say that hundreds off people have not already said or thought, Good luck for tomorrow, You have been in my thoughts for a long time now, I have had the pleasure of meet your eldest 3 Beautiful daughters. Xx

  18. Wishing you all the strength in the world for tomorrow. Thank you for your beautiful writing and inspiring me to be a stronger, better person and mother. You will be ok I just know it. The wold still needs people like you in it.

  19. I don’t know what to say. I’ve been reading your blog for a while and admire you and your attitude so much. Just wanted to wish you all the best for your surgery. Will be thinking of you and your family tomorrow.

  20. What to say. I wrote my wishes on EB. But I will repeat them here, for good measure. :) My wish for you, is that tomorrow you surpass all expectations, and that your outcome is better than anything you dared hope for. I will truly be holding you in my thoughts tomorrow, hoping and wishing and praying and thinking and vibing…if that’s even a thing. All on Red Jules, All on Red xxx

  21. All on red!
    So I logged into fb and someone had updated that you were in surgery right now
    I’ve been thinking of you a lot but even more so today ( even though I don’t even know you )
    Come on Jules -All on red xx

  22. You have no been in my thoughts all day. I hope the surgery has gone fabulously. I too can not imagine you as a 16 year old with no friends as your kindness and generous spirit radiate from even just your written words. Thinking of you and sending love and support to you and your fairies and your fella.

  23. This is, quite possibly, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read. I found your blog tonight and have been reading through your posts. Your honesty, clarity and compassion are stunning. I so admire your choice to live (and love) so fully. x

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