What else is there to do, my darling, but to keep on going: to keep on living?
You won’t even preoccupy yourself with the choice to stop until you’ve known some despair. And there will be despair, in life, no matter how well I try to divert it, my darling.
It will strike you in the midst of a loss and eat up all the light illuminating the rest of your way. It will challenge the clarity of your dreams. Sometimes, you’ll feel like you’ve lost it: this fleeting certainty about having a meaning, a purpose, in life.
“What is all this for, anyway?” you’ll ask yourself (although I do so very much hope that you will ask me first).
Despair is terrifying like that: It aims at hope. It’s quiet and dark. It’s not like rage that clouds your vision with a rebellion against a collective sense of injustice. Instead, it grovels. It hungers. It reaches for things in mere hope of someone’s last minute mercy. And it dwells in sad corners of rented apartments where the faint smell of previous residents can’t help but remind you of irrelevance; of passing.
Because everything passes, my darling, and every-one.
Everything passes — and this, too, shall pass.
Oh, how often I’ve wondered about what you will be like! I try not to commit too much hubris at fantasizing about the color of your eyes, or the structure of your hair, or the shade of your skin. But I have an idea, I think; and I hunt for it in the faces of other people’s children.
I try to restrain myself from predicting your gender. In my younger day, I thought that most certainly you would be born a girl. It was my duty, I thought, as a woman, to give way — to another woman. I had already done it enough for plenty of others: for the women I love or barely even know. I never competed with my gender. Instead, I devoted my life to making up for their difficulty of being born female.
It’s idealistic, I know, and a bit of a cliche. It makes me into an easy target for those who could not find other ways of expressing their fears — but to tear down a woman’s self-esteem. And so they did. Some had succeeded, my darling, but not all; and not for long. For I had shaken most of them off, by now; then spent the rest of my years repairing myself — with goodness.
Because what else is there to do, my darling, but to keep on going?
As a young woman, I was sure that I would make a better mother to one of my own kind. I would devote the rest of my life to making up for the difficulty of your having been born a girl: making it up to you, for life. For your life, my darling.
But then, I had to love enough — and to lose enough loves — to open my mind to letting you be. You may be a son, after all: a boy whom I would teach to never be afraid.
May you never-ever be afraid, my darling!
But if you ever were, I would teach you to keep on going — with goodness.
Because sometimes, life is summarized in our perseverance: not just past the dramatic and the painful; but past the mundane, as well. (I, despite my three decades among the living, still haven’t figured out which I find most grueling. But I have known both, my darling — tragedy and survival alike — and I have persevered.)
And what else is there to do, my darling, but to keep on going? to keep on persevering?
Everything passes: Despair, joy, loss and thrill.
But goodness: Goodness must keep on going. It must keep on happening.
So, these days, I no longer imagine your face or your gender; your stride, style, or habits. I don’t fantasize about the way you’ll flip your hair or tilt your chin; then, yank on the threads of my familial lineage. No, no: I don’t daydream about hearing the echos of my mother’s laughter in yours. I don’t pray for accidental manners that will bring back the long forgotten memories of my self.
No, my darling: I’ll just let you determine all of that on your own.
Instead, now, I spend my days thinking of your character: The temperament you’ll inherit and the choices you’ll learn to make. For that is exactly what I owe you, the most: To teach you goodness, my darling.
It shouldn’t be too hard, from the start; because everyone is born good. But it is my responsibility to teach you goodness in the face of adversity; in the face of despair, despite the collective sense of injustice from other people.
So, I shall teach you goodness as a way of persevering.
Because you must, my darling: You must persevere. And you must never-ever be afraid!