Cars zipped along carelessly on Las Vegas Boulevard and the laughter of tourists danced on the sidewalks below, as I sat in a crowded hotel room surrounded by the faces of newly found friends. With tears in my eyes, I poured out my soul and my story in way that I had never done before. Recounting memories of the past, fears for the future, I laid everything on the table. And in mustering up the courage to share my vulnerabilities… I was forever changed.
Two days later, in a crowded auditorium, Mary Marantz presented me with a letter. A beautiful letter written by the incredible Hannah Brencher… A young woman who decided that the world needed more love letters. An inspiring person that I have never met, but who took my heart in her hands and wrote the words that I never realized I needed to hear.
Today I am sharing this letter with all of you. I am sharing this letter to each and every person who has ever struggled or worked so hard to stay positive during the most difficult of times. For the fighters, the believers, the hopeful. These words are meant for you… Just as much as they were meant for me.
Truth told, I don’t know you apart from the pieces of a story I’ve gathered along the way or the path toward finding the courage to write you this letter. Surprisingly even after writing hundreds upon hundreds of letters, there is still an anxiousness that rises from my stomach every time I sit down to the page. There is still this hope stirring that I will write the right thing. That I will somehow find a way to stitch together the words you need to hear in this moment.
You are a bright one in this world, I know that much is true. There are just some people who are called to be the lights and the lanterns and guides for others who have lost their way or need to know there is a reason to push on. I don’t need to know the laughter lines of your yesterday or the places where scars are still living inside of you to know that you bring other people out of the dark. Your story speaks of it. Your heart radiates of a goodness that makes the world blush and the stars grow jealous of how you outshine them so effortlessly.
I know it’s not easy to believe this. I know. I know there are days where you want to curl up in a ball and curl your hands into fists at the disbelief of it all.
We all go through that. We all doubt our impact. We all want to unfurl from our calling sometimes to chalk it up to never doing enough, never being enough, never touching enough people, never saying the right things.
Please, in this very moment, know yourself for what you truly are: a miracle. A rare presence in an overcrowded room. A someone who shakes the souls and tests the heart strings of adversity, and makes others fall in love with a life that had previously been seeping and sopping with grey. You are the kind of person that stirs people into a thick brew of gratitude, and faith, and anticipation for the beauty of what tomorrow will bring.
Keep pushing on. Keep pressing on. Don’t let anyone in this wide, wide world ever try to snuff out the light you bring. Other people will find themselves coming home because of you.
Home to a life they used to find so much joy in until the days grew longer and the challenges grew thicker.
You are remarkable. You are needed. We – the ones who get to stand beside you, or read of you, or hear fragments of your journey from across the room. We are the lucky ones.
Sending light and love,
Thank you Hannah for writing these words… for writing the things that people so rarely take the time to say. Thank you Justin, Mary, Liz, Ryan, Jen, Ashley, Jeremy, Katie, Serena, Josh & Caleb for everything and so much more. You are the lights and the lanterns in my life… And you’ve inspired me in more ways than you will ever know.
This trip, this experience… was so much more than I ever could have imagined.