Easton Laffitte, age 16
I wrote this for my best friend who is now going off to college. I watched them grow and come out to me, and I watched them go through declaring a major that they hate so they wouldn’t be disowned by their family. I wrote this as a love letter to a best friend, and a goodbye, and a thank you, and so much more. I wrote it about their becoming, and I thought it might connect with others too.
It’s your time to rest now. You’ve worked so hard, but now the night has fallen and the moon has risen. It’s alive, and so beautiful.
Tilt your head back, take it all in. Watch the way the light trickles down, the way the night sky covers the earth in a blanket of quiet inky darkness, a living being around us, and the way stardust crumbles beneath fingertips, dissolving into seas. Look at the way starlight reflects in the eyes of every person you’ve ever loved, setting them alight with a gentle flame, illuminating what you love most about them.
Exhale, for the day is up; it’s your time to breathe. So breathe.
Exhale, because it’s been so hard but I have so much faith that you will do whatever you want to in this world. You will make a difference. You will make someone’s day, or week, or year, or life. You will change the world.
And maybe you won’t change it in an everybody-will-know-your-name kind of way. Maybe you will! But perhaps you’ll change the world in a small way. Perhaps you’ll change the world by telling someone you love them, by convincing one person to continue on, by giving one person a smile when they need it most, or by inspiring someone with your work. Perhaps you’ll change the world in the kind of way that when you eventually leave it, someone, somewhere, was made better because of you.
Exhale, for you’re at the end of the race. It’s not the kind of race that has winners or losers, but the pressure’s there nonetheless. It’s the kind of race where you can hear your blood pumping and the sound of your own lungs and realize how mortal you are, how short of a time you’ll have here at all. It’s the kind of race where you want to take breaks, but sometimes you can’t. Sometimes you forget to drink water, and sometimes you’re not certain the direction you’re going. But the important thing is that you kept going. Even when it was too dark to see your own hand in front of your face, you kept putting one foot in front of the other when it mattered most. And now, you’re here.
You’ve made it.
Exhale, for the time is here. The time is now. Slow down; listen to your own heart. Trust that while it may not always be right, it’s certainly the most well-intentioned of all your organs, never ceasing its beating, never doing anything but loyally continuing on. Your heart’s very existence is a miracle.
Exhale. Know that on your back lies the most beautiful pair of wings in the galaxy, and maybe you don’t know it yet, but they will grow. It may take time for you to trust them enough to leap off of the edge, and that’s OK, but when you do –
You will fly.
Exhale, because it doesn’t matter what name or pronouns you want me to refer to you by, as long as I can always call you my friend. Because you can trust that no matter what decisions you make in this life, no matter what steps you take or path you lead, if you trace every footstep you’ve taken so far on this earth, they will all lead you home.
Exhale, because it’s time to trust yourself, to love yourself. Because we all change with life, and that’s part of the journey, but maybe some things stay the same. We are always the same person, we simply grow and are shaped by our experiences, by each moment and person we meet. But you’ll still be you; you will still be the same kind, loving, talented, creative person you always were. You will not lose what makes you, you. Don’t fear growth. Just remember to never stop looking into the mirror of your soul, and I know you’ll be OK.
Exhale, because I promise that when you call me, I will always pick up. I promise that if the place you always called home closes its doors to you, I will open mine. I promise that if you ever need a place to stay, you don’t need to look any further than wherever I am. I promise that wherever I am, I will come to you if you need me.
If you need me, I will be there.
I love you.
Exhale, because this life is only as meaningful as we make it. Because we only see beauty in the things we choose to, because I trust that if you take a walk and turn over rocks, you will find love beneath each of them. Because beauty is in the small things, like the shape of bowls, crafted and built by careful hands, and in the dim light of a phone screen, and the way your heart slows as you slip into sleep. Because you will find love at the bottom of dusty old boxes and tucked into outfits, nestled in between pages and intertwined into locks of your hair, love –
Is all around you.
If only you choose to see it.
Exhale, because a wish is never wasted if it makes you happy. Life is never wasted if it makes you happy. Because pursuing joy is not a crime. It’s a privilege. Always chase your dreams, no matter how right-brained they may be. And never, no matter what you do, take them for granted, not even for a moment.
Watch the sky as the colors melt from the darkness of night to the streaks of starburst pink and orange of a new day. Watch as tomorrow unfolds before you, infinite in its possibility, just waiting to be seized by two hands – two hands capable of building universes, of shaping the very foundation of the earth, if only they so wish.