I don’t really know how to tell you that you’ll be okay, because I know you aren’t. Nobody really is. You were scared when your mom got sick, and you smell candles every morning just to make sure you’re okay, and you don’t ever feel relaxed. School feels like the one thing you can do well, and even that has become overwhelming. But you will be okay, and I hope that you can trust me when I say that.
You don’t know it yet, but that fear will be eased. It won’t go away completely, but you’ll breathe again.
You’ll laugh again. You’ll laugh when Lola learns to bark, when she barks for the first time at an empty Dr. Pepper bottle and chases it around the room, when she jumps from one end of the couch to the other just to lick your face. You’ll laugh at work (which you still get to do) when your coworker makes a joke and yogurt almost comes out of your nose, when the store loses power in a summer storm and the doors won’t close because of the wind and you and your coworkers wash dishes by flashlight. You’ll laugh when your best friend comes over for the fourth of July, and you sit outside with six feet between you, and your dad lets you light the fireworks for the first time, and you all look at the moon through the trees and don’t realize it’s the moon until you go up onto the back deck and see that it’s not a plane or a meteor or whatever your dad thought it was. You’ll laugh on your birthday, when your mom organizes a drive-by birthday party and you’re surprised that your friends and all of your coworkers and some of your family came. You’ll cry, too, but it’s the good kind. You’ll feel loved.
There will be times, though, when you cry, and it isn’t the good kind. Like when you’re scared to go back to school or to the grocery store, or when the news is on for the fifth time in one day and the numbers are getting bad again. You’ll cry about homework, because your brain and your body are so tired, and you feel like you’ve done all you can do. You’ll be okay, though. You’ll finish your assignments, and your writing won’t be as bad as you think it is, and your classmates will still snap their fingers for you when you finish reading a poem or a story you wrote that you think is bad.
You don’t know it yet, but you’ll go mini golfing with that boy from last summer, and Taylor Swift will release two new albums in the span of a few months, and you’ll watch new movies and rewatch your favorite TV shows. You’ll smile at text messages so hard it hurts, and you’ll get that first vaccine appointment even if you’re scared you won’t, and that feeling of despair, of fear, of a longing for the way things used to be will fade a little. You’ll recognize the fear and deal with it instead of drowning in it.
You’ll find peace in long drives with your dad to nowhere specific, find comfort in new routines and the warmth of your bedroom walls, find a renewed love for alone time and the way the sky looks when the sun sets at the end of your street.
You have good things. You have good people. You are lucky, and you’re not alone. People will leave, but you’re better off without them, because the people that stay are the ones that matter.
Spend time with your dog. Watch a bad movie with your dad. Hug your mom, even if you’re scared. Especially when you’re scared. Don’t dismiss the way you feel, because it’s all valid, and even if everything feels different now, the world isn’t ending.