Dear Lily June,
If I died right now, I could die happy.
There were moments over the holiday where I felt that sentence become truer than I could ever convey. Like when you were opening what felt like an endless stream of presents your parents worked so hard to give you, and you stopped to play with (or at least fondly touch) every. single. one.
Like when I was holding you at your Grandmother’s after a long and eventful Christmas dinner to sing you “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in the dark while it was just us two alone, and you let me. You calmed in my arms and let me.
Like when you, later that day, took off running across your Granny Gramma’s trailer to hide for about 10 seconds before you took off running back into my open arms for a sweet and sincere hug for about 10 seconds before you took off running back to hide for about 10 seconds…, in what felt like an endless stream of presents to me.
Like when your Dad and I stayed up alone watching the end of Love, Actually with you passed out on the sofa bed between us, your finally having calmed from a post-holiday, over-sugared, over-stimulated shrieking meltdown.
Like when we stayed up another day until 4:00AM like we were kids again, listening to a Pandora station themed around our song, Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” your dad playing Plants vs. Zombies on his computer, your mom cross-stitching a sampler for the first time since high school.
Like when, yesterday, on my last day of holiday break from work before the semester begins, you, without any prompting, took off your pajama top (buttons and all!) and pants and diaper–completely independently–and walked over to your potty and peed in it like it was no. big. deal. And I about lost my mind with pride. AT NINETEEN MONTHS, YOU JUST POTTY TRAINED YOURSELF.
So trust me when I say to you, Lily June, that the exercise below in no way represents an actual death wish, but a desire to live longer by getting healthier. I know I am a cliché, the New Year’s Phoenix who rises from the ashes wishing to drink more water and eat more fiber. And it’s all the more confusing to be a feminist fatty who wants to stay body positive while still trying like hell to tame my multiple rolls back into submission to rebecome a single muffin top, not to turn a man’s head, but to lift my own.
But here I am, deciding that 2016 me, the one that crossed the 200-pound line, the one whose A1C was in the pre-diabetic range, the one whose idea of exercise is typing 100+ words per minute, needs to die. And 2016 me’s depression, that stopped me from showering or brushing my hair or teeth, that kept me from taking my pills with any degree of consistency, can die right alongside her. And 2016 me’s complacency, the kind that allowed me to express shock at the election of Trump all the while never having contributed to the kind of candidate or world I wanted, has got to go to, like the little dog alongside Dorothy. May they rest in pieces.
I’m going to recommit to all things healthy and try to become a reading, writing, crafting worldling ONCE AGAIN because it doesn’t matter how many times in my life I have failed; all that will matter, looking back, will be the time I succeeded in changing Everything (but, you know, no unrealistic expectations or goals here!)
To that end, I give you, should I die in 2018, what I hope 2017’s me will have been:
Alyssa Moore passed away today from a heart full to the bursting point. Though she wrestled for many years with the demons of anxiety and depression, through writing letters to her daughter on the blog “Dear Lily June,” she started to reflect on her own life, seeing where and how she needed to change things to inspire her daughter to do and be even better. As a result, she was able to, in her thirties, return to all the hobbies she’d loved in her younger years: reading voraciously, crafting crazily (especially cross-stitching), and writing and publishing poetry prolifically.
In fact, she started, through a Family Bucket List in a Jar she established, doing things she’d always wanted, but had been too afraid before, to do: Her first manuscript of poetry, produced in her twenties, was finally published because she got up the guts to send it out. She got a tattoo of a mason jar full of fireflies, each one dated with a time in her life that served like a light in the darkness–her wedding to Ryan Moore, the tornado they both lived through, the birth of her daughter, Lily June. She even died her hair cornflower blue!
In her last year, she lost a pound a week, not through fad dieting or starving herself, but through re-establishing healthy and sustainable patterns of eating and exercising, including doing her own cooking. She was able to get back under 200-pounds which gave her more energy to chase after her beloved baby girl, who she knows can also achieve hard things if she puts her mind to it. She wants her weight loss not to be seen as an act of vanity, but an act of bravery: She worked hard to change her life because she enjoyed, so much, living it. She maintained her belief that every body is beautiful (and beach worthy!), and only engaged in a lifestyle change in order to make hers more functional and healthy.
In fact, her passion for living bled into her passion for social justice: She wanted everyone to live as freely and fairly as she’d been able to, through the unfortunate reality of white privilege in her country, based on systems of oppression and racial supremacy she could never stomach existing. As such, she became what she called (given her relative poverty) a micro-philanthropist, giving small donations to causes she truly believed in (women’s shelters, food banks, Black Lives Matter, etc.). She championed a civil rights-based, intersectional feminist equality and engaged in everyday acts of kindness, like smiling at and talking to strangers she might otherwise have never realized she wasn’t engaging with (having spent so much of her life as a cripplingly shy introvert).
She taught her daughter–through the children’s books, toys, and lessons she gave her–that everyone on Earth is worthy of respect and love and that it is not just our responsibility, but a glorious opportunity, to give it. She exposed her child to other cultures through conversations, cuisines, and religions, even beginning a travel savings jar to one day show her baby a world she’d never had the money herself to go out and see. (Finally quitting smoking in August 2016 gave her the ability to put that money toward better things.)
She leaves behind her best friend and husband, Ryan, who always gave her a safe place to fall when she struggled, and their beloved daughter, her reason for getting up every morning. That they loved her as they did made her entire life worth living.
(My thanks to Shelley of Life in My Tin Can, whose fake obituary inspired me to write the one I might have if I live up to all of my own dreams!)
- By Snyder, Frank R.Flickr: Miami U. Libraries – Digital Collections – https://www.flickr.com/photos/muohio_digital_collections/3190814083/, No restrictions, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38902323