A Letter to Myself Three Years Ago
The next few years are going to be a trying time. It will be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Yet, events will unfold, altering your life and the world in ways you could never have predicted.
Let’s start with the personal:
Next year, your mother will die. This is not unexpected. You see it coming. You’ve made your peace with it. But still, when it comes, it will be more real and more final than you can conceive of in advance. It will change some of how you think about your own mortality. That’s just what a parent’s death does.
You and your wife have been attempting to have a child for a few years. You’ve given up. Next year, it will happen. Fair warning, her birthday will be less than a week away from yours, so you’ll be splitting birthday time with her for the rest of your life if you’re lucky. Cheers!
Next year, the dog will have bone surgery. It will take a good while for him to recover, but he’ll be alright. Moreover, after a few more seizure clusters, you’ll mostly get his seizures under control for a while. Don’t worry.
Now for the bad news. A lot of things will happen in the coming year that will be entirely outside of your control:
A global pandemic will sweep the world and claim as many as 1 million American lives by the time I write this. It will push you to quit your job to take care of your pregnant wife and the dogs at home and will be a source of stress for several years to come. Yet, as of the time of this writing, it’s unclear if anyone you ever knew has died of this virus.
Following a viral video of the strangulation murder of a Black Man in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at the hands of police, the largest wave of protests and riots following any such event in recent history will sweep the United States. Portland will become a hotspot for these protests. They will go on for over 100 nights. Federal Law Enforcement will intervene, dumping more chemical munitions on the city than during any period in US history. You will hear the explosions from the tear gas canisters and flash bangs from your house all summer long. By the end of it, a man will shoot dead a Patriot Prayer member and, in turn, be hunted down and executed by US Marshalls. It will be very stressful, but you, your family, and your friends will be OK.
As summer ends, the largest set of wildfires in 100 years will torch forests throughout the PNW. The farm will be OK, but for an entire week, the city will be blanketed with thick smoke. You will smell it when you wake up. You will taste it every minute of every day. You will feel it drying your skin in those moments when you must leave the house for any purpose. You will attempt, with your wife, to head out to the coast for a few days to get away from it for a while, but your truck’s radiator will burst, leaving you waiting for a tow and a ride home on the edge of the Coast range forest, concerned about the risk of wildfire, or paranoid armed mobs concerned that far-left Portlanders are setting the fires and ready to take “justice” into their own hands. You will be OK. But you will not escape the smoke until it dissipates.
One month later, all of this will have felt like it was worth it: Your daughter will be born. She will open your eyes to many things. About yourself. About the world. About who you need to be for her.
This will not be the last year of many things happening to you. But, as of the time of this writing, it will have been the worst of it. Things will get better, if gradually. You will build this new phase of your life and your family’s life. Don’t worry. It will get better.