Dear Rachel

dearrachel

You were the first book character that I ever remember making me cry. It’s hard to find a higher honor than that. I don’t even know how many years it’s been since then, but your story will continue to stick with me for the rest of my life.

The Animorphs. You, your friends, all dragged into a war no one, especially not unprepared kids, should have had to fight. But someone had to, and it could only be you guys. For supposed children’s books, the stories were pretty dark.

I picked one of your books to read first, at an old Scholastic Book Fair. #17, The Underground. At the time, I figured I could catch up on the previous ones at the library. Serial storytelling was a lot different those days, haha. But what struck me was the dissonance of the cover, which I would later realize was the very dissonance in you yourself. There was this pink trim, lots of pink and purple and feminine colors. And a beautiful blonde girl…. Hideously transforming into a monster, a bat. To go fight aliens. At the time, that was unheard of to me. The idea that a heroine could be pretty and girly and also threatening and scary. Feminism wasn’t something we talked about at our house. Girls were either pretty princesses or rough tomboys, nothing in between. But you were all of the above, and more.

A gymnast and a shopaholic, with super model looks and the clothes to match. A warrior soaked in blood, living for the adrenaline of battle and watching her enemies fall, enjoying it maybe a little too much. At the time, I didn’t realize how important that was in a female character. I was a kid. Life had given me such a narrow view of what woman could be, and you shattered all those stereotypes and built a new world of options.

I know sometimes you were afraid you might be a monster. But I want you to know that I’ve seen every thought you have, every decision you made in this war. And the Ellimist is right- you were brave, you were strong, you were good. And reading your story helped push me to be those things myself. You were the first real literary role model I had, more than any of the other Animorphs, even more than Cassie, who you and I both know really would have been the more obvious choice.

There was a lot of darkness in you, darkness that defined you. You weren’t perfect. At times, you weren’t even a “hero”, not in the traditional sense, but even that was an act of love on your part. You were the bad guy when needed, to spare the innocence of others. You sacrificed not just your life, but your soul, so that the people you loved could survive. A martyr, but not a saint. And when you died, I wept.

You matter, so much, to the little girl I was then and the woman I am now, and I hope to love with half the strength you did.

 

Love always,

A Friend

 

 

Rachel is from the book series Animorphs by K.A. Applegate

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Dear Peter Pan,

dearpeterpan

When I was a kid, (well, even a little as a teenager), I waited by my window for you at night. I would sneak out onto the little roof that covered our front door, sit on the cold rubbery shingles and pull my knees to my chest. And then I would wish, pray, as hard as I could that you would come.

I knew exactly what I’d do when you finally showed up- cover myself in pixie dust, faith, and trust. Thinking up wonderful, happy thoughts wouldn’t be necessary. The utter joy of the moment would have me floating almost before magic touched me. I would have followed you in an instant, second star and straight on til morning, if it took a hundred, hundred mornings. I would fly and I would dance and sing. I’d splash with the mermaids, fight pirates, and leap from treetop to cloud to back down in the sea, riding the wind like a rollercoaster.

I can never decide if I’m grateful or bitter that you never came and took me away to Neverland all those years ago. Who would I be now, if you had?

Would I have remembered it all? Or would the sudden realization that I would one day never go back have haunted me until I drove it from my memories. It’s the old “better to have loved and lost then to have never loved” thing that people throw around. And I’m not sure I believe that.

I still believe in fairies. I still believe in magic. I still believe in innocence and childhood. I still believe in you. And I think, maybe, I like being able to believe in something I’ve never seen, especially now as I grow older. That’s a sort of skill that I want to hold on for the rest of my life. There is so much good in the world that can’t be seen, and I want to be able to believe in that too. Watching the stars and seeing other worlds in them helps this world make more sense.

But Peter, even knowing all that, I’m still a little angry. Magic is precious and special, and I would have loved every second I spent experiencing it. There’s no way to know who I might be today if you had brought me to Neverland. I might even be worse off… but there’s a small fluttering part of my soul buried deep in my heart, a part that would give anything to find out.

It would just be something, knowing for a Fact how magnificently big the world is. I suppose that’s the point though. We don’t always get to know the shape of universe, so we just try and believe the best of it.

I believe in Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust. I’m just musing on the “faith” part of it all. So far, trying to figure it out has been an awfully big adventure.

 

Love always,

A Believer

 

 

Peter Pan is from from the novel and play by J.M. Barrie

Dear Aang,

Dearaang

Wow, a lot of these letters have been kind of downers lately, huh? I mean, they weren’t written to you, so you wouldn’t know. But really, yeah. Kind of a glum series I’ve got going on here.

That’s why I’m writing to you now. Because to me, you represent joy, even in the darkest of circumstances. And not the fake kind, always putting on a smile for other’s sake, pretending everything is going to be okay when you know it’s not. You had those moments, same as anyone else, sure. Far fewer moments than me though. Because you found a way to experience life and joy and light and freedom, when the world tried it’s hardest to take that away from you.

Some of that is an airbender thing, I know. Living life in the moment, staying away from material attachment, focusing on what is rather than what might be or what was. Most of the credit, however, rests with you. Aang, you have this lightness to you, both in the sense of air and of shining bright. You make people smile. Laugh. You bring hope. Not because you’re the Avatar, but because you’re you.

Thank you. I’ve always been able to count on you for that, but it’s even more than just enjoying your show and your story. You’ve helped me look at the world, but more importantly, myself, in different ways. With forgiveness. With kindness. With hope. With joy.

That doesn’t mean I have to be okay all the time. It’s not weak to feel things, or to hurt or grieve or need help from others. Things are bad sometimes, yeah. But there are so many good things too, and I want to go out and find them. I want to go on adventures. Find the freedom to see the world, but also to enjoy the little moments right here where I am, right now. There are dogs to pet. There is music to listen to. There are stars to gaze at. There is peace to be found. And when I struggle to remember that, I think of you.

So really, only one thing that remains to be said-

Will you go penguin sledding with me?

Love,

A Friend

 

 

Aang is from the television series Avatar: the Last Airbender