Dear Sartaj,

This letter is from your third greatest lover. The first will always be your mother. She was your home long before you knew what home meant. The second is your sister. She will stand by you until the end. Always remember this and be kind to them. I’m sure you will learn in due time to be kinder to yourself as well.

2017 was the most difficult year of your life. We both know that. It wasn’t anywhere close to how you had imagined or wanted it to be but some years will be exactly like this. It’s easier to take these soul-crushing blows when you are young so be grateful. You lost your home and the death of all this potential and possibility put you in a lot of pain, but you learned and you changed. You pushed through your moments of weakness and kept going even when you couldn’t see the finish line. I’m proud of you! Please try to remember that. Breathe a bit easier now and don’t be so hard on yourself. You are still finding your way back to you and if it takes a little longer than planned, it’s alright. You have time.

Grief has been your shadow this year but I have not seen you once shy away from it. I’m so glad you keep choosing courage and vulnerability over fear. You could’ve just as easily boxed yourself in and operated under a false pretense of self-pity or apathy but chose not to. This loss is a part of your story now and although it is an inconvenient truth, I hope you will embrace it so you can keep growing. I know this experience broke your heart and belief in humans, but as your beloved Rumi says, “the wound is where the light enters you.” There is a significance and consequence to all your suffering and we will discover it together in the future.

Life has not stayed still during your mourning and already met your unparalleled grief with infinite kindness. You are more fortunate than you can possibly imagine. You traveled the world, visited your tribe, met curious strangers, spoke your mind, put a dent in others, made new friends and gave as much joy as you possibly could. You managed to do all this on days when you didn’t have the strength to even wake up or leave your bed. Good people accomplish difficult things. You are a good man and I hope you find an unshakeable peace; a peace no one has to bring to you nor is ever able to take from you. Remember, you are what you tolerate so learn to establish your boundaries so that no one has power over you ever again.

You have gifts. You can see further than most can. And you can feel and express more than most people would allow themselves to. I hope you will continue to use these gifts in the service of others so your burden feels lighter too. You may be a work in progress but you are still always enough. There should be no room for doubt in this regard. I know when you see people you see the best in them but learn to be mindful of the gap between their intentions and actions. And I hope you are able to do the same with yourself. Take care of your health. Learn to swim. Exercise. Laugh. Be more honest and less afraid. Dare greatly. Trust again. Take as much as you are willing to give. Read that last one again.

You prioritized someone else before yourself and now you must undo this. You are human so accept even the parts of you that you hate. This is how you’re going to become bullet-proof; and it is essential if you plan to devote your life to a purpose larger than yourself, your ambitions and your flaws. There is more light in you than you would like to believe. Your friends see it. In fact, this is what attracts them to you. Do not let them down nor forget their kindness on your darkest days. Do all of this and more so you can build momentum to become the best possible version of yourself. I always want to see you happy so please give yourself permission to succeed wildly. Life is too short to be anything other than extraordinary.

May Rab protect you. Always.

All my love,
Yours.