Hi! It’s me. Well, it’s you … at age 30. I got the time capsule you put together for me to open in 2023, though I admit I did open it a year early. Sorry about that. You’d probably like to know that I still have all the journals you wrote in elementary school, and I have a photo of you at age 7 pinned next to my desk to remind me to be kind to myself on days when I’m not as productive as I think I should be. I still have the letters that you and your second-grade teacher wrote to each other while she was in the hospital fighting leukemia, and I try to honor whom I think you wanted to be as an adult. I love monarch butterflies like you do. I still have a strong will and like to write. I remember your struggles and worries, but I also remember how wonderful you are.
You want to know what’s really cool? You’re 30, and you don’t cough anymore. Yeah. I thought you’d think that’s pretty amazing. Can I tell you more?
You know all those years you and your family spent raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation? Well … it worked! It got you, your little sister, brother, and many other CFers a medication called Trikafta® that makes you feel like you no longer have cystic fibrosis. You still do, technically, but the pills you take in the morning and evening have taken away your cough. You take a deep breath, and it doesn’t hurt or feel constricted. You haven’t been hospitalized in over two years! You’re finally able to gain weight. That’s right, girlfriend, you grow up and become healthy and strong like you so badly want to be. You still take enzymes, but that’s OK. At this point, it’s second nature and you don’t mind at all. (Oh, you’re no longer embarrassed to take your pills in front of people. It gets easier.)
Guess what else? You’re a mother. Yep. You have twins! Can you believe that? Their names are Alder and Winslow and they are almost 2 years old. Your body carried you through a healthy pregnancy with the help of Trikafta, and now two beautiful little lives light up your days. Their laughs are infectious (while your lungs are not), and you look at them every day and feel so damn grateful that they are yours. You never thought you’d become a mother.
You’re also married to your best friend. He’s five years older than you, which sounds weird since you’re 7 and he’s 12 as you’re reading this, but it gets much less weird when you actually meet and start dating when you’re 21 and he’s 26. He’s a wonderful daddy to your babies, and since your first date he’s listened carefully and compassionately about the things that matter to you. He thinks you’re funny. He likes that you’re thoughtful, and he loves your heart. We lucked out.
Morgan, I want to tell you to keep your chin up. You are kind. You will always make mistakes, but you’ll learn to forgive yourself and do better.
Never mind those kids who make fun of you in gym class for putting your hair in a bunch of braids — the bullying doesn’t harden you, it just reinforces your compassion for others. I know that kids can be mean; and you’ll sometimes succumb to being mean yourself as a way to protect your tender heart. Forgive those kids and forgive yourself.
You are braver than you think. I’m so proud of you for explaining to your 5th grade class what cystic fibrosis is and what you do to keep yourself as healthy as you can be. I know you did that because you’d rather they hear the truth from you than misinformation from people who don’t know what they’re talking about. That was brave.
I know you think you won’t live very long, and you’ve heard that other kids have spread rumors that you’ll die before you graduate high school. Honey, they’re wrong. They are so wrong. I can’t see into the future, so I don’t know how long you’ll be around, but I do know that you’re 30 and you’re here and you’re healthy. (I know, 30 sounds ancient. So, congratulations, you’re officially “old”!)
Your determination will get you through. I know that it sucks doing treatments every night, especially when you’re so tired from school and you just want to go to sleep, but you know that your lungs will feel crappy the next day if you don’t do your vest and Pulmozyme®, and you might end up getting sick. It’s hard work, but your hard work pays off. You’re alive and well at 30 years old and your lung function is 90%. Keep listening to your doctors and respiratory therapists — they care deeply about your future, and their advice gets you to a beautiful future. Thank them the next time you’re at clinic. And while we’re at it, tell mom and dad thanks, too. They love you so much.
Morgan, there are going to be lots of your CF peers who die young, who tragically don’t make it to Trikafta like you do. They undergo lung transplants, sometimes more than once. Sometimes they don’t make it through transplant, or they die too soon after they’re given a second shot at life. Their bravery in the face of death is something that terrifies and mystifies you. Always remember how lucky you are. There’s no way to explain why you make it and they don’t, but never take your health and good fortune for granted.
And finally, smile and let go, little one. Have confidence in who you are. You are OK exactly as you are. I love you, and I’ll see you later.
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