Due to my certification as an HIV testing counselor, as well as my participation in a certain low-budget cable TV show, I have worked as a public speaker at colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and Canada, speaking on issues of student health and "LGBT awareness." Are you aware there are LGBT people all around you? I am here to tell you, yes there are. Trust me. I'm a professional.
When I was in Denver preparing to speak to a group of students for a New Student Orientation program, I went to my hotel's business center to print out some notes. On the desk I found a letter, written from a mother to a daughter, printed out but forgotten and left behind. Of course I read it.
This letter made me tear up right there in the computer center, so I took it to my speech. I admired this parent for having the guts to not only discuss date rape and condoms with her daughter, but to express her own feelings with such grace. When I walked up onto the stage, I asked if anyone in the room would either claim it as their own, or mind if I shared it. No answer. So I read it for the audience.
After years of hanging on to this letter, now crumpled and apparently in the beginning stages of biodegradation, I am going to print it here. Enjoy.
This is the moment I looked forward to all my life; however it is also the moment I fear - seeing my beautiful little baby move on and live her life.
All is well, as my heart is filled with pride and joy as you grow to be a fine, young lady and seeing you proud of yourself for who you are inside.
You have helped me become the woman I am as we grew together.
You went through high school with flying colors.
You have definitely chosen your high school friends wisely; I know you will do the same with your college friends, especially your boyfriend.
Remember, have as one of your parameters for your boyfriend to be: he has a close relationship with his family and respects his parents.
If you must, remember to use good protection and BE SAFE.
Suggestions for being safe:
- Have a designated driver if you decide to drink.
- Be with another girl friend if you are going to hang out in boys' rooms, and if you must and you are alone, keep the door open.
- Be with another girl in your room if you are going to have boys hang out in your room, and if you must and you are alone, keep the door open or tell them they cannot come in.
- Be wary of date rapes. Do not accept any drinks from anyone. Get them yourself. Don't leave your drink and then come back to it.
- Remember you have only one body; you have only one soul. Take care of it.
Drink lots and lots of water -- it is 50% of your body weight.
Remember to take your vitamins.
I love you. I am proud of you.
I know you are proud of yourself and that is what is most important.
If someday you decide college is not for you and you do not know what you want, it is okay. Be proud that you found out.
Your room will always be available for you when you want to come home for a visit, for a homesick fix, for a good cry break-up fix, for the holidays, for going home for good until you determine what you want to do...
Make your life's decision based on what is true for you and not what is true for me or your dad.
My job is done. I have given you wings to fly and I am happy and proud of/for your flight.
Be happy and proud of your flight and life your life--being true to yourself always.
I remember your first day in school. My heart was broken into pieces. I could not leave school. Your teacher finally asked if I wanted to volunteer. You guessed right...yes.
I remember your first flight alone on a plane. It was nerve-wracking. I must have looked at the clock more than a hundred times counting the minutes when you were picked up at the airport.
I remember when I first left you with a babysitter to go to work. I'd come home for lunch just to see you. After a while you wouldn't come to me. That definitely brought tears to my eyes.
Nobody told me how much harder it is to let go of you when you go off to college. I find myself crying hysterically. It feels like your umbilical cord is being cut for a second time. I know, however, you will be just great...no matter where you are.
You are a precious gift. I remember when you were born like it was yesterday.
I love you. I am proud of you. I thank you for being you.