A Letter to Myself the Day Before I Turn 15 Years Old – Be Grateful You Have Thick Hair and Great Friends

Dear Almost 15-year-old Tammy,

I want you to read this the day before turning 15 years old. In front of the tube TV. Munching on a bag of Orville Redenbacher Caramel popcorn. Probably watching “90210.”
The Arborg Skating Club’s competition wrapped up. You won two medals. Enjoy them. Because you won’t compete for awhile.

Spoiler alert. You’ll get the part you’re after in the drama play. And there will be two casts. Because of this, you won’t play opposite your crush. And you will be crushed. But you’ll realize he’s just not into you. And I promise, you’ll survive.

Yes, you’ll make the honour roll. Treasure this one, because it’ll be your last.

Despite my warning, you will get a perm. You’re a stubborn Aries and can’t be told what to do. When you see the photos from the family trip to the International Peace Gardens (remember how humid it was?) you’ll wish someone warned you. Oh, wait.

Summer will be awesome. Biking to Hnausa, staying at your grandparents, watching soap operas, writing short stories. Calling poison control when one of the kids you’re babysitting walks out of the bathroom eating soap. And shopping with your aunt in August. You’ll leave her exhausted, but she won’t complain. But I’m begging you. Those necklaces with the bottle of bubbles? Don’t get me started.
first dayFirst day of grade ten. Rethink that thick white sweater. But you won’t. And you’ll coordinate it with a denim skirt, pink slouch socks and purple scrunchie. And what did I tell you about clear mascara?

September 12th, 1991. The Freshie Dance in grade ten. You won’t go. You’ll be in the Arborg Hospital after a seizure on September 10th. Which leads to a diagnosis of a brain tumour. Which leads to surgery. You’ll survive after surgeon pokes in your brain for seven-and-a-half hours.

But half your hair will be gone. You’ll learn to not let bad hair days upset you.

Luckily, you can flip that hair over and cover that mega bald spot. It’s a good thing you have thick hair.
First surgeryBe grateful for your friends. They’re going to be the ones who’ll grab drinks from your hands thinking it’s alcohol – did I mention you can’t drink? They’ll chase you when your staggering down the hallway. Unable to walk a straight line, still adjusting to medications. Oh, yeah, you’ll be on medications. Lots. And they’ll visit you in the hospital. Bring your homework. Write you notes.

And I promise those friends will never treat you different. Because you’re not. This is your new normal. You’re not different, because there isn’t a classification for different.

You’ll run for Vice President in grade nine, unsuccessfully. In grade ten, you’ll be on the dance committee and decide the Halloween dance should be by MuchMusic. You’ll be allowed to attend – with conditions. Because your parents are leery about letting you out of the house.

However, they won’t bubble wrap you. You’ll still go to parties. You’ll go to sleepovers. Life goes on, I promise.

So, don’t be afraid to turn 15 years old. Because some wonderful things happen.

Right now, you have a page to turn on this journey called life. Get a good night’s rest.

Because 15 years old is going to be a life changer.

Talk soon,

39-year-old Tammy.