Dear Zoey,

This might be a heavy letter. I’ve been working on a project that I’m directing in a few months called, V-Day: A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, a Prayer. It’s part of a bigger project that promotes domestic violence awareness, and ending violence against women. The pieces that are part of it are difficult and emotional and draining, to say the least. And being a single mother to a daughter, I feel a deep sense of responsibility to this mission. I really do.

Zo, you’ve acquired a trait of mine, that at times, I wish you hadn’t. Mema and Papa both have told me that I’ve always had a “soft heart.” I’ve always had a deep sense of compassion and empathy. And I don’t say that to boast. Believe me, there are times when I wish I could cut that aspect of myself out because sometimes, it gets so heavy. I have this deep desire to want to hold people’s pain for them. To make it better. To make them feel worthy and loved and unashamed. And of course, those all sound like good things, and they are. However, there are days that I feel absolutely suffocated by it. And you have that heart too. I see it in the way you pick up on people’s energy. The way you want to comfort people who are hurting. The way you want to make people laugh and bring them joy. The times that you’ve looked at me, fighting tears, and have said, “Don’t cry mama. It’s all okay.”

I’m glad you are loving and aware of others. If there’s anything I hope, it’s that you also take care of your heart. That you can’t fill up someone else’s heart, if yours is empty. That there is absolutely no limit to loving people, but that being said, sometimes the best way to love people, is to let them feel through their own pain and struggle.

Value yourself and value others. Both can be done.

I love you,