c/o Toad Hall, ANU
You’ve been on my mind a lot recently. I look at my beautiful nieces, nephews and godchildren and think how lucky I am to have them in my life. Some of them are about your age, 20, and sometimes when I look at them they remind of you so much. They're smart, funny, and just starting on their life's journey. Looking at them, I want to hug you close to me and tell you it’s all going to be okay.
I know you have fears for the future and sometime you feel so lost. There are so many things going on in your head that sometimes you’re not sure what you fear the most, is it failing your degree, being alone or being overlooked by the world?
Underneath all those I know there is one fear that you try to push aside, but can never be quite at ease. Every time the phone rings early in the morning or late at night, it’s the fear that makes your heart pound and your mouth go dry. You worry for your father, you know he isn’t well, I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. Sometimes when you’re visiting your old home, you watch him napping and you lay your hand on his chest to make sure he is still breathing. You already know your time with him is finite, but you don’t know how long you have. I want to tell you to help prepare you, but I can't, no words can do that. Just keep on making the most of him being there, he feels such joy when you suddenly turn and hug him and tell him you love him. Don’t stint those hugs, from your dad or from anyone you love.
You’re so scared of what will happen when he isn’t there anymore. I won’t lie, it will hurt more than any pain you’ve ever known. But the pain comes from love, you can’t have one without the other. Keep breathing, even when you have to remind yourself to physically take the air into your lungs, one day you’ll smile without having to force it, and you’ll find a way to keep going and keep him in your heart.
You already think you know about heartbreak, there was a boy you cared for so much and it eats at you that he didn’t want you anymore. I wonder if you will believe me when I say that there comes a day that you will have to struggle to remember his name and his face? That might not be a comfort now, but try to remember it when other heartaches come.
And I am so sorry that they will, because just like poor tragic Othello you love not wisely but too well. There will be times when you feel second best, but if you have to compete for their attention, the prize is not worth it.
Sometimes it’s your pride that gets pummelled more than your heart, it can be hard to tell the difference can't it, after all pain is pain, does it matter where it’s coming from? It makes you lash out like a wounded animal, wanting to hurt back. But one day a good man will teach you something important, be angry at the action not the person. With your temper that is so much harder than it sounds, but trust me, it is good advice.
There are times when you feel so angry, and sometimes you don’t know why. Angry words bubble up in you and you can’t suppress them. There are times when you react to the taunts and barbs of people who have been foisted into your life, people you had no choice about. Try to pick your words, you don’t know it but those words are sewing seeds in other’s minds that will grow and flourish. The day will come when those bonds you feel unravelling will grow tight again and bind you even closer together.
The worries really are swirling in your poor little head aren’t they? You worry about your studies, after all is there much call for someone who knows a lot about Roman emperors and a decent amount of Latin? But you’re studying these things because they fascinate and enthral you.
This will become typical of your work choices, you will always follow your intellectual interests and your moral values. You’re already learning to analyse and read between the lines and to tell a story. Those skills will take you to great heights, trust me. Do the things you love, it doesn't matter if it's a bit daggy or a bit geeky, follow your interests and pursue your dreams.
One day prime ministers will use your words and your ideas will be published for others to read. There will be times when you feel frustrated and think you’re not being heard, but remember sometimes the smartest thing you can do is let others think they come up with the winning idea themselves.
You don’t have much to do with kids at the moment, they don’t feature much in your life. Sometimes you wonder if you even like kids, you don’t really know.
Will you believe me when I tell you that one day you will be surrounded by children that adore you to bits, and your heart will grew to accommodate each new arrival and every new member of the family, even when the bonds are of affection rather than genetics. You will fall in love with each and every one, and you will vow to yourself that you will lay down your life for them if needed. One day a little voice will tell you “I love you as much as there are stars in the sky” and your heart will almost explode with pride and awe at how precious is a child’s love.
These will be the children of your heart and will bring you untold happiness. And for them you will invent the world's best breakfast: rainbow pancakes! Just add mini marshmallows to pancake batter!
There’s another family not too far away in time now too. One day you’ll find a letter from a special woman on the other side of the world, where your heritage comes from. The letter will open up a whole new world. It will awaken your curiosity to travel and see the world, and take you to the land you’ve heard about in family stories. The letter writer herself will give you such love and care and will become your beloved aunt, and her family will take you into their hearts. What a wonderful adventure is waiting for you with them!
The adventures are just round the corner and you will laugh and make friends all around the world. Yes there will be tears and I can’t stop that, I wouldn’t want to, they make you who you are just as much as the laughs. All I want to do is remind you that the tears and laughs come in equal measures.
Who am I to know these things? Why, I’m Cassandra of course, and you already know my story. I fled Apollo’s ardour and he cursed me. He cursed me to see the future but to have no one believe me.
Yet I think you’re smart enough to believe what I’m telling you. Because you know I’m also you. I want to reach back through time and hold you close and tell you it’s all going to be okay.
Of course there are other things I want to tell you too. I know how short your favourite skirt is and I know how cold it is in a Canberra winter. So for goodness sake go buy yourself a coat and cover up! You’ll catch your death and then where will we be?
But in the end, you know what? You’re going to be just fine kiddo.
All my love