Dear Arden

By: Rhyker Dye

Dear Arden,

When I burst through my therapist door to tell her that my doctor had finally approved my hysterectomy, she cheered alongside me. Then, she made a suggestion: write a letter to you so that I could mourn. I don’t really think that I need to mourn since this surgery had been years in the making. I’ve made peace with the fact that if I want a family, it won’t come from my body. But, I have a goal of being more emotionally vulnerable and processing stuff instead of shying away from my feelings and all that other stuff my therapist said will make me a more well-adjusted friend, partner, and adult. So I guess I’m sitting here in a coffee shop writing a letter to you. I thought I would talk with you for a bit about what could have been. I thought I could help you understand why I am making this decision to go on without you.

You’re not real. You never will be. You probably never would be even without this surgery, but going under the knife is the final nail in a coffin that doesn’t (and won’t ever) exist. You are not a lost dream, but you are a path that I won’t be able to travel down any longer. I bet you would have the most beautiful blue eyes (you’d get those from me). Maybe they would be a slight jade green like your father’s (maybe you’d have dark eyelashes like him).

Your name would be Arden. I didn’t run that by your dad, but I think he’d like it. I could hope that you would be laid back and peaceful like him, but I just know that you’d be a handful like I was for your Mimi. I imagine you’d be smart and mischievous (Papa would love it). Would your hair be fair white or auburn? I would pray that you’d be born with your dad’s nose, but if you wound up with mine, just know that you would still be beautiful.

I always thought that God didn’t bless me with the patience to be a mother (and I still think that), but I do feel some guilt about taking away your chance to find out. I’m not ashamed of taking care of myself. I know that there really isn’t any guilt that I should feel for you since you aren’t waiting for me somewhere in the great expanse of the universe.

But if you are waiting for me (if your soul or your essence or your stardust is waiting for me to bring you down to earth), Arden darling, stop waiting. I’m not coming for you. That’s okay. It’s okay for both of us. I was never meant to be a mother. The world just didn’t want it that way. It might be for the best; the world can be a cruel place. If you were mine, I couldn’t promise that I would be nurturing or loving. I couldn’t promise that you wouldn’t wind up with the generational curse of chronic illness and trauma like me. I couldn’t promise you peace or harmony or warmth.

I hope that your spirit finds that peace somewhere in the galaxy with or without me. Don’t wait on anyone to make your grand entrance into the world. If you get to choose, I’d recommend that you channel your stardust into being born as a cat. If your essence has to be redirected somewhere else now that I am shutting the door on you, live your life purring in the sun and being loved by some gentle old lady.

Who knows though? Maybe one day your name will be Arden. I will give it to you when I sign the paperwork instead of at the hospital. Maybe your eyes will still be blue- your aunt always looked like Papa even if they didn’t share blood. Maybe I will be the one to love you even if you don’t come from my body.

So, Arden (my love, my darling, my star), if you do choose to come into this world, I hope that I find you.

I miss you in the future….


Not Your Mom

Rhyker Dye is a genderqueer writer living in the southern United States. With a B.A. in History from the University of Arkansas, their writing focuses on documenting real experiences with literary flair.

Reflective Engagement

  1. Emotional Vulnerability and Processing Loss: The author discusses the importance of becoming more emotionally vulnerable and the process of mourning a path that will never be taken. Reflect on a significant decision in your life that closed off certain possibilities. How did you navigate the complex emotions associated with this decision? Explore the concept of mourning not only for tangible losses but also for the lives and possibilities that we imagine but will never experience. How does acknowledging and processing these feelings contribute to your emotional growth and resilience?
  2. Redefining Family and Legacy: The essay touches on the acceptance of not having biological children and the openness to different ways of creating or being part of a family. Reflect on your own definition of family and how it has evolved over time. Consider the various forms that love and legacy can take beyond biological connections. How do you envision your impact on the world and the ways in which you can nurture and support others, regardless of traditional notions of family?
  3. Hope, Acceptance, and Letting Go: The notion of releasing the dream of a specific future to embrace a different path is a powerful theme in the essay. Think about a moment when you had to let go of a deeply held dream or expectation. How did you find peace and acceptance in the face of this change? Contemplate the idea of hope not as attachment to a specific outcome but as openness to life's unpredictability and the beauty of alternative futures. How does this perspective shift affect your approach to life's challenges and opportunities for fulfillment?

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