An Open Letter to Grace

Dear Grace,

“When you look back on times we had; I hope you smile; And know that through the good and through the bad; I was on your side when nobody could hold us down; We claimed the brightest star; And we, we came so far.”—Carrie Underwood, “Whenever You Remember”

I am taking part in the 30 Day Open Letter Challenge and each day for the next month I have to write an open letter as designated by the Challenge. Today is Day 3, “an open letter to my best friend”.  While I have a few I refer to as my best friend, I decided to write this particular letter to you, the one who has been my muse throughout the years.

When I reflect on our friendship, I can’t help but think of how natural our connection was from the start. It made me nervous, how quickly in tuned I was to you, your thoughts, and most importantly, your heart. I remember the first day of high school and being in awe of your individuality. If I am being fully transparent, I wanted you to be my friend from that moment on, although our friendship wouldn’t truly form until a year later. I was drawn to your artistic ways of self-expression and the willingness to stand out, not for the attention, but for the sake of being authentic.

The first time I got invited to your birthday BBQ, I knew we had crossed a milestone in our friendship. Anyone who gets invited to try Daisy and Frank’s ribs has to be someone you appreciate enough to give them the privilege of those damn ribs. Trust me, can’t no one throw down like your parents can. But food aside, you and your family quickly became extended family members for me. Growing up in a single-mother household, I never saw a man take an active role in the family. Frank, or as I like to call him, Francisco, did. Your parents, sister, uncle, and other relatives accepted me with open arms. They never made my sexuality or gender expression serve as a reason to exclude me, they, like you, made me comfortable with being myself. As a dancer, you and your parents played a huge role in my development. From Freespace Junior Company days to the beginning days of marked dance project, you never allowed me to stop believing in my potential as a dancer and choreographer. My muse, you were and continue to be.

Of course every friendship goes through their ups and downs and ours has been no exception to that norm. Our downs were rough, our ups, always magical. The Universe has allowed us to be there for each other regardless of our struggles and despite whatever the situation, we always met each other with love.

In the last few years I have witnessed you blossom into a courageous, bold, resilient, and determined individual and nothing has brought me greater joy than seeing you spread your wings and continue to be the person I came to meet all those years ago—someone who sought to be authentic in a society that wanted you to be “real” but not honest.

In recent years when life-altering circumstances shook us to our core, I learned to look at you in a different light. Grace, your strength has left me in awe, breathless even. You face the challenges with such conviction that you force me to be braver. When I found out about your recent situation, I can’t lie, I broke down. Not because I doubted your ability to overcome, but because it forced me to remember our mortality. It was the first time I was forced to imagine what my life might be like without you in it, and the mere thought of that left me numb. Luckily Trey was there to remind me that you could get through anything, insisting that somehow everything was going to be okay.

Last night when I read your text and got the news that indeed you would be okay, my heart smiled. Thank you for being the Grace to my Will, for putting up with my antics, and for never letting me forget that my talent was enough.

No matter what lies ahead, I know that we will brace it together, that our friendship will live on long after we are physically gone from our bodies.

Love you now and forever.

With Love,