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A Letter to Myself: Dear 5-year-old Olivia

March 26, 2018

Dear Little Liv,

 

It’s me, well, you … um, us? Twenty two years from now, a lot more of what I’m about to tell you will make sense. Right now, you are five and you just “celebrated” the holidays by saying goodbye to your father. It sucks, doesn’t it? Get used to that feeling because there are going to many more times in life that it sucks. But don’t worry, you’re left with one of the strongest women in the world – your mother. And she will sacrifice a lot over the next 20+ years to make sure you have plenty of opportunities.

 

You’re mature for your age. Well, you try to be. I mean, what five year old says to their mom, “dad passed away”? So, here it is…

 

Your dad was taken from you by an ugly disease and unfortunately, 22 years later, there is still no cure. You won’t have the luxury of going to a ‘Daddy/Daughter Dance’ and your dad will never coach one of your youth league teams. You’ll grow up with all your friends having their dads in their lives – but you won’t.

 

If I told you right now that in 22 years you will have an amazing career working in sports, you will laugh. You’re a girly girl. You will grow up in a room that is pink and right now, your favorite game is playing ‘dress-up’ with your friends. And let’s be honest, sports aren’t your thing. Even 22 years from now your family will still remind you of how you used to duck out of the way of the ball during your first season of tee-ball, and how, when you would play baseball with your cousins, you almost always finished every catch at first base with a pirouette. And if you try to forget about those things, don’t worry; Aunt Claudia has it all on VHS. By the way, VHS tapes won’t be a thing by the 2000s, so your cousins will transfer those embarrassing backyard videos to DVDs and they’ll most definitely be around well into your 20s.

 

You won’t have the luxury of learning about sports from your dad and that’s okay. You will develop a great network of people who will teach you, like your cousins and uncles. You’ll share a football bond with your Uncle Craig, a baseball bond with your Uncle Rob and a hockey bond with your Uncle Mikey. Your love for basketball will come later in life. Ironically, that will be the sport you work closest with in your future.

 

Your mom won’t watch sports with you and many times growing up, she will tell you to turn the baseball game off. That’s okay, you go to your room and listen to it. You will become a better storyteller in your career because of your ability to listen to games on the radio. And nothing will soothe you more than listening to a game on the radio (or in 22 years, on your iPhone) while you are running. What? You hate running? I know, but just wait.

 

There will be two major factors that lead you to your career.

 

The first is the lack of growing up with your father. You will attach yourself to sports as you get older because you know that if your dad was alive, that would have been your ‘thing’ together.

 

The second is your mom. Your mom will not go back to work until you are in high school and much more independent. Don’t take this for granted. Your mom will be there to help you with your homework, to cook you a healthy meal every night and most importantly, she will be there for every event in your life. She won’t miss a track meet, an orchestra concert, a parent-teacher conference. She will volunteer to be your “class mom” and will be a chaperone on almost all of your elementary school trips.

 

Your mom will encourage you to run track. You will, up until you go to college and make the decision to put it in your past. Not until your 20s will you realize the valuable lessons and friendships running brought into your life. And somewhere in your mid-20s you will start running again. This time, it won’t be for your mom or a team, but for yourself.

 

You’ll go away to college and start working in the athletic department. You’ll love it and eventually it will become your career. You’ll move far from home - Florida, then North Carolina - and eventually, you will find your way closer to home at Syracuse. Your family, especially your mom, will miss all the “big” moments of your career. But that’s okay, she’s watching from a distance and so proud of you. Even though you’ll never tell her, you wish she could be there for everything like she was when you were a kid. But your mom raised you to be independent and to branch out and try new things, so that’s what you are doing at 27.

 

I wish I could tell you that you’ve met Prince Charming but the only ring you wear on your finger is your 2014 National Championship ring, and that’s pretty cool.

 

You’re fierce, independent, and absolutely kicking ass in your career and have no time for anyone else.

I’m really proud of you, and so is dad.

 

Sincerely,

Older Olivia

 

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