This is the first letter I've written to you since you've been gone. I sit here and I have absolutely no idea what to write and that's so stupid because I could always tell you anything; we never ran out of things to say.
Is it because you're dead?
That word seems so foreign in my head, let alone when I say it out loud. Every time the doctor asks me what I'm feeling, everything is always before you and... well, after you. And I hate that. Because I can never say it. And he keeps telling me that the first step towards recovery is acceptance.
But what am I trying to accept, San?
I feel like ever since you've gone, I don't know the answers to anything. The doctor tells me it's all part of my grief and the depression he's diagnosed me with. The day he told me, I heard your voice in my head scolding him, saying, "The fuck has my Britt-Britt got depression. That's impossible, she's living sunshine."
But you weren't standing in the doorway like I was half expecting you to be.
That day sucked.
It's been a year. It's been a year, San, and I have written so many letters to you... but none of them made it past your name.
Well, maybe that's a lie. I did manage to write one whole sentence in one of my earlier letters. But I think I only wrote something like, 'it's raining today' and that just reminded me of that bit in Mean Girls when Cady tells Aaron the same thing and that made me cry because that was your favourite film and you looked up to Regina George so much.
We were so young, we couldn't even see that she was just a straight up bitch...as you liked to call yourself junior year.
Honestly, I feel like it's a miracle getting this far in a letter to you. I don't even know what is happening right now. You told me to move on and to make something of myself. But how can I do that when the only person who ever really believed in me was you?
I really want to ask you if you still do. And I know that if you were here right now, standing in front of me, you'd tell me to stop being so silly because yes, of course you still believe in me. But it is so hard to try and picture you telling me that because you're not here. You're not, San, and it hurts so bad.
The only thing that got me through Cheerio's Nationals was your wish to know how we did. The only thing that got me through Glee Nationals was, again, your wish to know how we did. I could have just left it to the others and asked them the results, but I knew how disappointed you would be in me. And I could never have that. Not ever.
We came first, by the way. In both Nationals. Coach Sylvester actually ended up forming a really weird friendship with Coach Washington that even Lord Tubbington would find unnerving. They, like, joined forces with each other, so our Cheerio routine was done in the water. It was actually quite impressive – when I stopped trying to think of staying under the water instead of coming up again.
In Glee, we sang Edge of Glory and as a dedication to you, we did an acapella version of Songbird. The last song we performed was Somebody To Love because it was the first song we ever performed all together. That was Rachel's idea.
I slipped up after you went. I slipped up real bad, Santana and I think I am still slipping up. As much as you won't want to hear this, Rachel was amazing. She picked me up, quite literally off of the floor in the girl's bathroom, and sat me down after every single Glee rehearsal to tutor me. She said, in her usual perky voice, "Brittany S. Peirce, I am not letting you fail this year after everything you and Santana have done for each other and most of all for us! You will get up off this dirty, contaminated with sexual fluid floor, I'm sure, and walk with me to the choir room, where I will remind you of everything you already know."
If I hadn't been so sad, I would have had the humour to tell Rachel that the sexual fluid contaminating the girl's bathroom floor was most likely yours and mine.
So, I graduated, San.
I think I can feel you smiling.
I don't know what I'm doing now, though. `Everyone has seemed to move on and it's like I'm the only fish that can't swim. I feel like Nemo. I'm not going anywhere because I can't keep up. Mercedes worked all summer to get money to study in LA, Mike has gone to this awesome dance school in Georgia, Quinn is finally out of her wheelchair and she tells me she loves Yale every single day. I don't really know about Finn and Rachel but what I gather from Kurt, they are fine and loving the big apple.
But me? I'm nothing, San. I'm nothing without you.
Your parents came round to see me yesterday because it was the anniversary of...well, you know... the day. The day everything changed. They told me that they missed seeing me and would I come round more often for tapas and chorizos. If I hadn't been so sad, I would have remembered to ask your mom how many babies she delivered that day and I would have remembered to ask your dad how much his last painting went for.
But I didn't. And I'm so sorry, San. I'm so sorry.
The only thing keeping me a little sane is Mocha. I never see Tubbs, he just sits in the airing room all day and doesn't even bother to meow every time I open the door. I think he misses you, as much as the two of you hated the ground you both walked on. (Yes, San, I knew.)
Mocha's loyal though. He sits on my bed with me and doesn't move unless I move. He sleeps with me at night, and I swear it's not healthy but it gets me through it. Because the night time is scary without you, San. It is so scary. I don't have you to turn to and whisper in your beautiful ear that I'm scared of the monsters in my closet and I don't have you to sing in your goofy voice, 'Youuu and meeeee, meee and youuuu, both of us together!' I have to whisper it to Mocha instead and even though he's a comfort, he's still not you.
And he doesn't smell like you anymore. He smells different. He smells like a dog should smell. And that's really annoying.
The only person who I ever see is my doctor and sometimes, when Kurt is home, he will pop round to say hi. Artie comes over occasionally, but he just reminds me of the bad times with you and now I can't stand to have him anywhere near me.
I sometimes wish I didn't graduate, so that I would be surrounded by at least a few people I know at school. Sugar sends so much money through my post box, it's ridiculous. She signs it 'Your secret guardian piggy bank angel' and thinks that I have no idea it is her.
The sticker that says 'Sweet as Sugar' on the back of the envelope kind of gives it away, though.
I miss you, San. I miss you so much. I miss you all day, every day, and sometimes I get so frustrated that I have to scream into my pillow. I scream because I can't see you. I can't see your face and I can't touch your lips and nobody, San – nobody will ever feel or taste or look the way you ever did.
You are beautiful. So beautiful that it hurts to even think of you. But I have to. Because that's the only way you are ever going to stay alive.
In my memories.
I love you, and I hope the balloon I am sending this on reaches you all the way up there in the stars.
I love you,
It's been two years now.
Is that a long time? Or am I just really bad at dealing with this stuff?
I don't know what I'm doing. I still don't know what I'm doing. And I think that's because I don't have you to tell me. I think that I got too used to relying on you; I always knew that if I didn't know the answer, you would. And if you didn't tell me, you would help me come to it myself.
Can you do that now? Can you send some sort of message down to me from, like, the stars maybe?
That's impossible. Everything is impossible without you, San.
Oh! Before I forget this time, your mom delivered nine babies last Wednesday. She said that was a personal record for her. Your dad took her out for dinner to celebrate.
I would have asked him how much his last painting went for but he doesn't paint anymore. Your mom said he can't bear to... Not without you, anyway. The last thing he drew was a little girl with raven hair, sitting on a hay bale in a backyard field, watching the sunset.
I don't think he's sold it.
San, I really miss you. Sometimes, I look at a picture of you, and like before when it used to hurt because you were so beautiful, it now hurts because you are so beautiful and the rest of the world can never see that now. And that's wrong, San. That's so wrong. Everybody should know who you are and know how beautiful everything about you is.
You once said you really wanted to be famous. I knew that, really, you just wanted to be accepted by everyone because you didn't feel accepted by yourself. But now I see what you really wanted. I see that you wanted everyone to see how loving and how beautiful and how selfless you are as a person because that never shone through at high school. Because you were too scared to be that person because you were too scared of what people would say. Being famous, you would never get all of that. People would just accept you because you were you. You were famous.
I want to make you famous, San. I want to spread the word about you and how brave you were. I want everyone to realise that I fell in love with an angel. And that's why she left me so early – because she had to go back to the angels.
I want everyone to know.
Do you think that's too much to ask?
I wish I could hear you say, "No." But I can't. And it sucks. Because that's all I need. A simple 'no'.
And that's why it hurts so much, San. Because sometimes, when I need you, it's impossible for you to be there. You can't just come and tell me what I'm doing wrong, or more importantly, what I'm doing right. You were the only person who ever did that for me. The only person. You were, San, and it's so frustrating that you're not here anymore to tell me. To remind me. To just be there for me.
I'm falling apart, baby, and it's all I can do to keep my head just a little bit off the floor.
My arms are always longing to reach you and when they find nothingness... It's like the world's biggest balloon has just been deflated in the space of two seconds. And then I feel the betrayal, even though I have absolutely no right at all to feel that way. And once my arms are gripping just myself once again, the anger seeps in and I end up having to scream. And it's a really scary scream – one that I can't control. One that only you could stop from erupting from my throat. It sounds like I'm dying.
Maybe I am.
I just want you, San. That's all I ask for.
I love you. I love you so much. And I think I miss you even more.
I love you,
It's your birthday today. You would have been twenty-one.
I bet you would have looked beautiful at the party your parents would 100% have put together for you as a complete surprise. I think they are missing that this year. I told them they should remember your super sweet sixteen and also your eighteenth, even though you were very ill. And I also told them that it isn't something they should hurt themselves over; because all of your birthdays were special, San. All of them.
But, nonetheless, my parents and I managed to scrape some money together and we surprised them instead. Mom took your parents away for the day to the city so that Dad and some other guys could set up a marquee in the field that backs on to your house. Finn and Rachel came home from New York, as did Kurt and Blaine. Mr Schue drove over to help Dad with the setting up. Puck, Sam and Mercedes flew back from LA the night before and I went to go pick up Quinn from the station this morning.
She has a boyfriend. His name is Ralphie and he is blonde with blue eyes. He's so tall that he makes even me feel scared. But he's lovely and so perfect for Q.
We set up all day. Swinging ropes and tightening bolts; dangling fairy lights and lighting lanterns. Everything, San. Everything for you.
And it was amazing.
We finished setting up, Quinn, Ralphie and I made all the food (and got so much cookie batter all over us; it was nice, San...I haven't laughed like that in so long) and Mike and Tina managed to arrive with tons of Asian food. (Your Dad loves that stuff). Miss Pillsbury (Or Mrs Schue, whatever you wanna call her) cooked some amazing Spanish food – all of your favourites – and then Rachel surprised me with a quick trip to Breadstix to get a wheelbarrow of breadsticks for every to have when they walk in.
I haven't seen half these kids since the funeral, San. Not since Rachel sang Songbird in her own red dress. Not since Mr Schue sang Valerie in his own red suit. Not since the whole of New Directions sang Carrie Underwood's Whenever You Remember all together in their own red outfits.
Red for you, San. Because you loved more than anyone else in this world.
Sugar got her dad to pay the farmer to decorate the marquee with thousands of hay bales. They were everywhere! Puck also managed to carefully remove some of your dad's paintings from around the house and place them all over the tent. He put the last one your dad did by a blown up framed picture of you at the end of the marquee.
It was beautiful, San. Mom was going to make it black and white but I asked her not to because then we wouldn't be able to see the deep colour of your eyes. And that mocha that showers me every time I look at it brings me such reassurance and safety. Like we always said, hey?
It is just a picture of your face. Your beautiful raven hair is flowing in the gentle breeze and you are standing in the field, I think. The sky is so blue and everywhere you look, there is diamonds in the picture. You have this huge grin on your face. It's really toothy and if you had any say in tonight's party, you would have demanded we burned it for the sake of your stony, mean girl reputation.
But you look so happy in it, San. And that's the way you were and that's the way you will always be. Not just to me, but to everybody else. I know that. I know that because I believe in you. And you should believe in you too; there is nothing you cannot do, baby. Wherever you are.
Your parents loved it. Your dad broke down crying when he saw his painting next to your picture and your mom just could not stop gushing at the effort everyone had made to make your day as special as they'd always imagined it to be. And instead of presents, we all brought something of ours which reminded us of you. We put them all into a wicker basket which your mom is going to keep in your room, I think.
Mercedes donated her old Cheerio's uniform. Sam donated a pack of chapstick, which made everybody laugh. Kurt and Blaine brought a tee-shirt with a picture of the devil and an angel on it. Kurt told us that he used to think you were Satan but underneath it all, you were really the most perfect angel God could ever have created. (I knew that all along). Sugar bought one of her invites for the Sugar Shack party because she claims that's when we first realised we loved each other more than best friends. (Maybe she's a little right). Rory sent a four-leaf clover over from Ireland. Mike and Tina donated a pair of chopsticks because you were convinced that's all they ate with. Rachel and Finn donated the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs DVD and the Free Willy DVD. I think you can guess why! Artie couldn't be there but his mom dropped off a note you had sent him in class one day:
'Sorry for nearly pushing your squeaky, irritating baby pushchair down the stairs every time I ever saw your pathetic four eyed face, but thank you for my girl. You've made me happier than you could ever know. P.S. Nobody hears about this.'
Puck's gift surprised me. I had it pegged that he would bring one of your old bras or something, I don't know. But he actually brought one of his old jumpers that apparently you always wore because it was yellow and it reminded you of me. I thought that was sweet. You never told me that. You also didn't tell me about the Congratulations card you sent Mr Schue and Miss Pillsbury after their engagement... That was nice of you, San...!
Quinn's gift was my favourite. She gave your mom the daisy chain the three of us made the summer we all met.
She'd kept it, San. She'd actually kept that little ring of friendship we all made that hot summer's afternoon in the park. The day we all met under the Sycamore Tree, asking what each other's names were and how old we were.
We were so excited that we were all seven.
Your mom didn't want to take such a precious thing from Quinn but she told her that without you, she would never have got through the name-calling and the dark first years of middle school for her. I think she feels guilty for losing that gratefulness for you when you had your own summer surgery.
The daisy chain is hanging on your mom's dresser.
I'm in bed now, San. Quinn left her and Ralphie's room to sneak into mine and now she's lying, curled up by my side, gripping my pyjama pants because she's so afraid of losing me too. I'm so glad we did this tonight, for you. You have no idea how much I think it has helped not only me, but your parents and everyone else involved today.
You are so special. Wherever you are, don't forget that. Don't ever forget that.
I love you,
This letter is being sent to you from New Haven! I am staying in Quinn and Ralphie's new apartment. It is HUGE. They've got a massive sitting and dining room and the kitchen is just so sparkly, it feels like a gazillion gnomes have cleaned it every day for a thousand years.
Quinn and Ralphie have been helping me these last four years study to get better results from school. After finding all your notebooks you kept the last few years of your life, it made me really think about what I want to do.
You wrote how you were going to apply to Stanford to study medicine. You wanted to become a doctor but you didn't think you were clever enough. You wrote how hard the examination would be and you wrote how you didn't want to live away from me. You thought that you would end up working in some local Lima Loser bar, serving old alcoholic men their beer and cocktails after a long hard day of chasing out-of-their-league women. You thought that you weren't good enough and that you weren't fit enough.
Well, San. If I can do it, anyone in the whole universe could – especially you.
I'm going to Stanford, San. I'm going to live the life you always dreamed of living and I'm going to show you that it's possible. That anything is possible when you love someone.
Your parents are helping my own with the fees and the requirements. Ralphie has set me up on Skype so I can call them from across the country. Quinn has taken me shopping, (she has just taken got this internship at this magazine called The Fold. She's been asked to train as a journalist which she's excited about because she gets to write and take pictures.) And with her first pay check, bought me new clothes and all the stuff I need for studying. She's even paid for my flight to San Francisco. She did that last night.
I'm so excited. The Lima Gazelle asked me if they could print a story on it. I told them I'd rather they did it on you so we met halfway and now we are both in the newspaper! This is the first step to getting the world to see how beautiful and how amazing you are, San.
So I'm studying the foundation level of Medicine which means at the end of it, I am a qualified nurse. I want to save people's lives because I couldn't save yours. I know it's what I'm meant to do.
I think I am going to be the oldest on the course, when it starts in the fall. Who ever heard of a twenty-five year old student nurse? Most of them will be nineteen. I feel like a granny!
You would have been so proud of me the last four years. Every time I felt like I couldn't do it anymore and I wanted to give up, I went and sat in the field at the back of your garden and just remembered. I remembered you and Mocha and Tubbs and Quinn. I remembered water fights and late night camping and early morning walks. I remembered making love to you under the most beautiful starlit sky I'd ever seen. I was surrounded by beauty that night.
I don't think anything has ever been so beautiful in all my life.
Quinn was amazing. No, Quinn is amazing. She let me live with her for the last two years, whilst Ralphie worked at the local science station (he's a weatherman). They were making enough money to help me and I've never been so grateful. Quinn was finishing her Drama studies, which meant each night, Ralphie and I were treated to a brilliant rendition of either Macbeth, Hamlet, The Tempest or As You Like It... all of them. She's a brilliant actress, San. You would be so proud of her. Ralphie and I practically know all of the words from every Shakespeare play ever written.
And even when she was studying really hard, she still had time to help me with mine. She completely re-taught me Math, English Literature and all the Sciences. Ralphie was actually very good with that. He gave me a good setup with Geography too. They would both stay up so late at night, surrounding us all with text book after text book, making mind maps and super big posters to put up all over the walls of their little student apartment. And when I was back home, they would both Skype me, not only informing me, but my mom and my dad about what I needed to learn next.
I even have my own bedroom at Quinn and Ralphie's new place. It's more like the guest room but they painted it yellow and placed a huge blown up picture of you and me on the wall above the bed. This one is in black and white and it's the last night we spent together on the field. You are wrapped up in my arms as we sit by a fire and you look so happy, it's so easy to forget how ill you were.
I don't even remember that picture being taken.
I think we were just so happy to be with each other that anything or anyone that wasn't us was insignificant.
Ralphie often asks about you. Quinn and I have these nights – Santana Nights as we like to call them. Quinn took me out of counselling and told me that the only person who was going to pull me through this was you. And you live in me, so she told me all I needed was a few good friends, some memories, and a reason to vent.
And that reason turns out to be Ralphie.
We get out all of these albums of the three of us and we go through all our letters, hand drawn pictures, clothes – everything – and explain to Ralphie the stories behind them. He often tells me he feels like he knows you just as much as we do because we talk about you so incessantly and so lovingly.
But I still get scared, San. I still wake up at the same time every single night, my heart pounding and my body drenched as if I just jumped in a swimming pool – like that time I was ill at your house and I was soaking from a fever. I can't remember what I've been dreaming but all I can see when I wake up is your face. But it's disfigured. It doesn't look like you. Your hair is all clumpy, your lips are swollen like they've been pumped with jelly and there is blood pouring out of your mouth. The only way I can tell it is you is because of the mocha that surrounds me.
Thank god for your eyes, San.
I try really hard not to whimper and wake up Quinn, but she comes in anyway, often with Ralphie, and they both settle around me and hold me until I fall asleep again. Honestly, San, I don't know what I would do without the two of them.
I'll write again soon.
I love you,
San Francisco is completely different to anywhere I have ever been before in my entire life. It is much, much bigger than Lima and there are way more buildings and much more sun than there was in New Haven. I'm not sure I like it. But I know that it will grow on me.
I feel you quite a lot here, San. I feel like this is always where you were meant to come after school. Your face is everywhere – in the bright blue sky, the deep red bridge and the rolling waves beneath it. When I catch the tram to and from the campus, all I can feel is you next to me, grinning just as wide at the way it rattles and clanks.
I wish I could have shared a tram ride with you before.
Nursing is so much fun though. The kids on my course make me feel their age again. They have sort of helped me live the years I missed out on, you know? There's this girl called Katie who is pretty awesome. She's twenty-two and she parties harder than you ever did! Sarah is nineteen and is so in love with our male professor, it's ridiculous. It's worse than Pepper and Schue. Maccy (Or Maccy D as the kids like to call him) is nineteen as well and every time I see him, all I can hear in my head is you going, "I'm sorry if people constantly mistake you for a hippo, that must be difficult," and I don't even know why! Because he doesn't look like a hippo. I swear, he really doesn't! Ollie is the sweetest boy I have ever met! He's so quiet and so small but he is the cutest little thing ever. And the last person I know on this course is Rebecca. She's okay – a little weird, but okay. All the others are either too nerdy for me to even understand or just don't care about making friends.
I'm on a floor with a couple of cool people too. I decided to get a room by myself because I felt that's the kind of thing you would do and at the end of the day, I'm doing this whole journey for you and your legacy. I have one more year left and then I can go out and spread your face across the stars! I live next door to a girl called Caley, who is only eighteen. She's in her first year and she's studying Spanish. Every time she speaks, it reminds me of you and I feel like I need to protect her. She's kinda like the little sister I never had; she sleeps in my room most nights because she claims my bed is much comfier than hers. (I know someone else who used to claim this too.) Caley is blonde and she has the darkest tan I've ever seen. She's from California and says she's spent the whole of her life on the beach. I thought that sounded quite nice.
On the other side of my room lives Edward. He kinda keeps to himself, mostly locking the door and working on some model he's making for his product class. I think he kinda crushes on Caley so there might be a little match making for Mama Peirce to do!
Opposite me is Jack. He's also really tanned and he has this golden hair which I'm pretty sure he bleaches with lemon juice. He's cool. He makes me a smoothie every morning and always asks if I want to join him on his morning run.
I haven't said yes yet. I'm not sure if I want to get into that again, you know? Not after it was kind of our thing. I've only ever jogged with you and to jog with someone else would be...I don't know, different I guess.
But I need to start getting over that sort of stuff. It's been ten years. Ten years, San.
Isn't that meant to feel like a lifetime?
Right now, I am sat in the airport waiting for my flight to New Haven. Quinn and Ralphie recently moved to the small town, Wallingford, after they got married (she is now Mrs Lockhart) and their baby girl was born a month ago. She is called Sophie and she is adorable. Q has sent me a couple of pictures and Ralphie emailed me all about the birth. They are going to show me the video when I get there. Quinn is so excited.
She's asked me to be Sophie's godmother and for you to be her Guardian Angel. I know you'll do a good job, San. You've always been the most perfect guardian angel.
I will get an earful from Quinn's housekeeper, Elaine, when I get there, about how I haven't made any effort to date somebody yet. "Ten years, Brittany! Ten years and still no man in your life!" That's what she will say.
She knows about you but she doesn't know that I loved you. She doesn't know hard this is even beginning to imagine being with anyone else, even just for one minute. She doesn't know that I'm meant to be all over that by now.
My nightmare still happens, San. It still happens and when I'm by myself, I can't stop myself from crying. And I'm pretty sure Caley, Edward and Jack can hear me whimpering to myself. Caley, when she's in my bed, clings tighter to me and brings me tissues. She never asks what's wrong. She's seen your pictures all over my wall and it's like she just knows.
As much as it's nice to look after her, it's so nice to have someone look after me. I know that you would if you were here, baby. I know that. I'm pretty sure you surround me. You're not far away.
I cannot wait to meet little Sophie. I bet she will be just as cheeky as her mommy and just as clever as her daddy. And I bet she will have little golden ringlets when she is a little older. Just like Q.
Quinn forwarded me a picture of a poster she saw at the weekend. It showed Rachel Berry in this new musical that none other than Kurt Hummel had written! How crazy is that? Apparently, Rachel and Finn are no longer together according to Q. She went to one of Ralphie's work gatherings where this man was there who owns this television company in New York. She overheard him talking about this new musical and how the actress in it reminded him of Barbra Streisand. She asked him whether it was Rachel Berry and the guy told her it was. Ralphie managed to put Quinn in contact with Rachel's manager/agent (I'm not really sure) and ended up having an hour long conversation with her. Rachel and Finn split after they both finished college because Finn decided he wanted to try his hand at acting in California. I'm not sure how well he's doing because I haven't heard anything about him.
I can hear you asking me in my head whether the T-Rex married the Jew...! Well, no, he didn't. The Jew decided she wanted to wait and it just never happened. I think Rachel is enjoying the single life. I shall have to talk to her, hey.
I miss you, San. I miss you so much. I keep remembering when Coach Sylvester wrote how her sister and her were attached to this invisible tether and no matter where they were in this world, they could still feel the other. I think that's what we have, San. I can feel you on the other end of our tether. I have no idea where you are and every time I try and follow it, I end up not moving anywhere but where I am and I can't help but feel like it's because you're here. You're right here, with me, following by my side every step of the way on this crazy journey we are both living together.
Quinn was right when she said you live in me.
I love you,
I just wanted to say that. I miss being able to say that to your face.
I'm kind of staring at your face right now. You look a little different though. You kinda look like me! All blonde hair, blue eyes and red cloak. You even have a funny red hat on which I can't remember the name of now...
My mom took this picture of me on Graduation Day last month. I got my Nursing degree and I could not be happier. And it was all because of you, San. You got me through those exams and those practicals. You got me through everything. You were with me every single step of the way.
You do look kinda beautiful if I may say so myself...!
They played Don't Stop Believing that day. I never cried so much in front of my college friends. Katie and Sarah kept shooting me worried looks and Maccy wouldn't stop hugging me. Caley stood next to me the whole time and held my hand and told me that you were right next to me, standing just as proudly as I was, looking just as beautiful too.
I know she was telling the truth.
The last year of college was tough, San. Really, really tough. Tougher than the years I spent with Quinn and Ralphie. Tougher than the first Math paper we have had to do. Tougher than writing my senior class president speech.
And I think that sometimes it was because I didn't have you physically next to me.
But, it was better than the first three years. It was better because I had Caley to remind me how to be a little kid again. I had Maccy to give me endless amounts of hugs. I had Edward to offer me his tutoring services. I had Ralphie to send me page after page of everything I needed to remember. I had Q to phone every morning and every evening to talk about everything and nothing. I had little Sophie to gurgle at me through my laptop. And I had Jack who finally convinced me to go jogging with him and who changed the way I was thinking about my future.
But most importantly, San, I had you. I had you in my heart and in my head and in my soul to take me through everything piece by piece, moment by moment.
I have stuff to tell you but I feel like I need you here with me. I feel like I have to wait it out for a little while before I can truly explain everything.
I think I like someone, San. No – I know I like someone. Someone who has always been there for me. But I'm scared. I'm scared for them, I'm scared for me but I'm mostly scared for you.
Can I talk about this with you? Is this kind of conversation allowed with you? I never thought it would happen...
I want to tell you about him, baby. I want to tell you all about him, like you asked me to. But it's so hard. It's so hard when I can barely tell him anything either.
He takes me jogging and he takes me to the top of this hill where there are loads of trees. He steps up onto the first branch of one of them and he holds out his hand for me to join him. He pulls me up and together we climb this little tree. And when we get to the top, I take his hand in mine and with his fingernails, carve our names into the top of the branch. Just like you asked.
And underneath our names, I carve yours.
He never asks why and he never asks who. He just knows. Just like Caley. They just know.
I'm back in Lima at the moment, sitting in my dad's office. The same graduation that's standing proudly in front of me is on your own parent's mantelpiece. They are just as proud. They can see you in me too.
Caley and I moved into a tiny apartment in San Fran in the final semester. It barely has room for one of us let alone two. But we manage. And it's fun. We cook each other dinner and she keeps me young by making me watch all this awful sitcoms and comedies.
Quinn's thirtieth is in a couple weeks time. That's why we're back home in Lima. Judy is holding a celebratory lunch and has invited as many of the glee club as she could contact, including my parents and yours. She is pregnant with another one – a little boy apparently – and she and Ralphie could not be happier.
She keeps in contact with Rachel now that they speak. She sometimes gets free tickets to her shows so Quinn and I pop down to the city for a weekend girl's break and take Rachel out for a thank you dinner. She's seeing one of the dancers from her show. I think his name is Justin? But I really can't remember. I just remember him in his tights and so the image I have in my head is not exactly pleasant. But she seems to really like him so I'm happy for her.
We sometimes manage to catch up with Kurt too. He and Blaine are still together, which I LOVE. Blaine is a personal boxing trainer at this really high end New York gym. He trains all the Olympians, which is really impressive. Kurt is working on a new musical, with none other than Miss Holly Holiday in line as the female lead! She's still not married or anything and what is she now? Like, fifty-two or something? Crazy.
I wish you were here right now, coming with me to Quinn's birthday. You should be here. You should be standing with me in front of all our friends, making some silly speech about how Quinn was the craziest teenager to ever exist. You should be there to embarrass her with me. But I have to do this on my own and I know that.
I know that.
I wish that I could experience my new happiness with you. But it's a different kind. It feels like a happiness I never got with you because it's coming from a different person. It's neither better nor worse... It's just different.
And I wish you were here to see it. Maybe you can up there, hey? I like to think you can.
Q and I will be thinking of you on her birthday. We will be, I promise. I hope you'll be thinking of us too.
I love you,
I'm getting married.
Is that a bad thing?
I'm so scared. I'm so scared and I'm so worried and I'm so nervous. In fact, I'm terrified. But at the same time, I am so, so, so excited. So very, very excited.
Imagine what our wedding would be like, San? I can see lots of red roses everywhere and petals floating on diamond pools. I can see little yellow and white ducks you managed to sneak from the local park pond and I can see Rachel climbing on to the stand at the front to sing a pitch-perfect rendition of Firework. I can see you singing even better. You would be singing Songbird and you would make me cry. You would want us both to be in dresses because even though you loved your overalls, you still loved your dresses. Dressing up with Q was always the best part of our weekend. I can see the whole Glee club being there, Mike and Tina with their Asian (!) twins Pai and Jasmine. I can see Artie managing to walk in with his robotic legs, just like he will be to this wedding. I can see Mr Schue and Miss Pillsbury standing next to their two teenage boys, both with full mops of bright red hair. I can see your beautiful face with a beautiful tiara sat delicately atop your head. I can see Q being your maid of honour and handing you our daisy chain to wear down the aisle. I can see a really old Mocha sat next to us at the altar with a picture of the late Tubbs sat beside him. (He's incredibly mopey at the moment because of that.)
I'd like to say I'd have Caley by my side at our wedding but I wouldn't have met her if this life had turned out the way we always planned and the way it really should have. But then I think, maybe things do happen for a reason? Maybe I was meant to meet all these people who have become like a family to me? But what if they were always meant to be your friends, San? Q always tells me that it doesn't matter if they were. Because you and I, we're one. And Caley and Edward and Maccy are all just as good friends with me as they are with you.
I can see this whole wedding thing, San. And that's why Jack promised me that we could make it just as you and I had always imagined it to be. So there are ducks waddling around the ponds at this Country House on Long Island, where we live now. There are diamonds decorated all over the marquee and Mocha is sat patiently waiting at the aisle to walk me down with dad. There is everything that there would have been had you been here.
Oh, San... What has this life done to us? Why did it take you away from me so soon?
I feel so heartbroken and so sad... yet I feel so happy and so perfect all at the same time. It doesn't make any sense and I don't know why.
All I know is that the minute Mocha, Dad and I reach Jack at the other end of the aisle, I will take his hand, look into his deep grey eyes and smile. I will smile because I know that at the other end of my tether is you, standing right next to me, whispering words of love, comfort and happiness in my ear.
I'm ready now. I know I am. I have a brilliant life on Long Island. I'm close to Q; I take Soph and Mills to the park every other weekend; I have a job that I love at the local hospital; I'm helping to save lives every day; I'm with someone who completely understands everything I have ever been through and accepts my past and my future with you. And today, I'm getting married.
Mr Schue and Emma are sat on the front row with their sons Geoff and Maxxie. Ralphie is sat right next to them with a four year old Sophie and a two year old Millie on his lap. Rachel and Justin are sat beside them, hands interlocked and smiling lovingly at everything around them. Kurt and Blaine are running hysterically around, making sure that everything is in order before it starts. Mike, Tina and the twins will be on the row behind them, sat next to a pregnant Mercedes and Sam. Beside them will be your parents and my mom, tears blinking in their tired yet happy eyes. And in the row after them sit Puck, his wife Hailey and their three girls Carla, Heather and Mollie. Finn will be with Artie at the back and Sugar will probably run in late with her newest fiancé, whose name I cannot remember.
On the other side of the aisle, Katie, Sarah and Rebecca sit with their boyfriends, fumbling with their fingers and wondering when it will all start. Beside them are Maccy, Edward and Caley, all three of them trying not to cry because their best friend is getting married to their other best friend. In the front row will be Jack's parents, Jack's grandparents, Judy Fabray and Holly Holiday. And standing at the front with Jack and his best man, Heath, will be Q.
I can hear Mocha's heavy breathing from where I'm writing this in my changing room. He's so old, San, I swear he's going to drop dead soon. That will be a sad day. Sometimes, I feel like he's one of the only things I've got left of you.
I was scary, San. It was scary the first time Jack made love to me. Not because I didn't want to do it... Just because the last time I did, it was with you and it was perfect and I'd never felt so much love and emotion when doing that with someone.
But he waited, S. He waited. He waited so long and when I felt comfortable enough, he was so understanding. And because of that, it was okay, because I loved him. I trusted him and that's what matters in a relationship.
I'm going to do everything you told me to do on our last night together. I promise you that.
Dad has just told me it's time. He's taking this letter and attaching it to a balloon that Jack and I are going to release after the ceremony. Quinn's written her own too.
Wish me luck, baby, and I'll see you in my dreams.
I love you,
They arrived today. They look so perfect all wrapped up in their incubator, their little noses gurgling with tiny breaths as they blow unconscious bubbles from their rosy pink lips. They're beautiful.
Two girls and one boy, San. I feel so blessed. So blessed that my dream came true. I think you may have helped out a little bit up there but I wouldn't have it any other way. They are the third best thing to happen to me in my life.
You know the others.
Jack has gone to buy some more baby grows and toys because we weren't expecting a little boy. We thought it was three girls. But I wouldn't change him for the world; he's perfect.
Honestly, San, I swear to god, if you and I had gone through this together, I can only pray that I would have fallen pregnant the first time. Because you and crazy hormones and bad anger management would made my life a living hell!
I'm only kidding, baby. You would be an adorable pregnant lady. Just like you would have been an adorable mom. So, exactly like you are to Sophie, I'd like you to be my children's Guardian Angel. Because there is no one else who would do nearly as good a job as you at protecting my three beautiful, miracle babies.
Caley just popped in with her fiancé, Nick. They are very much in love and she got all broody when she met them. I had to keep reminding her that she's only twenty-eight. Still, she'd make a lovely mom. I asked her and Q to be godmothers and Ralphie, Kurt and Maccy to be godfathers.
The little boy we named Albert Oliver Harp, after Jack's late grandfather. And the older little girl is Louisa Jane Harp (after Mom) and the smaller, darker little girl, Jack decided to name Santana Maisie Harp.
He named her after you, San. And she's beautiful. She's so beautiful. She's got the darkest eyes out of the three and the darkest skin and hair. It's like the stars sent her straight to me from you. I feel like it's your gift to me – a gift you'd really like to have given me but never could.
Well I've got her now, San, and I'm never letting her go.
Luckily, because they were triplets, I didn't have to go through labour. I had a C-Section and now I'm lying here with an aching belly. It feels weird being this side of the hospital ward.
Jack has spent the last four months painting the spare room in our little house. He and your dad painted the walls yellow and the cribs we bought are red. They wouldn't let me see it for ages. Not until a week before they were due. I was standing there in your old pair of overalls (which, by the way, are elastic and I never knew this...) and I just burst into tears. He'd gone through so much effort to put this beautiful nursery together... so much, and it just made me feel so happy and so loved. There are rainbows and ducks painted all over the wall and as a thank you present, he bought me three little ducklings which we named Quinnie, Caley (she isn't best pleased with having a duck named after her) and Baby. (That was my idea. It was yellow and it looked like the duckling you drew for me on my eighth birthday.)
Often, when Jack was working late, I would sit out on our balcony and watch the stars, whispering to you in my head and telling you how we were going to have three children and they were going to be beautiful. If one of them kicked, I told you how it felt. If one of them had the hiccups, I told you how it made me laugh. If one of them moved, I told you what it did to me inside. Those nights were never lonely because I had you. And I know that I always have you, San.
I just wish you were here to share it all with me.
Jack and I are going to take Albert to Blaine's baby boxing lessons, if he wants. We're pretty sure Louisa has inherited Jack's brains, and our Baby Tana...I don't mind what she does as long as she's healthy and as long as she's happy.
As long as they're all healthy and happy.
I wish you were here with me, watching my babies talk mindlessly to one another. I wish you were curled up by my side, laughing at how Louisa keeps swatting poor little Albert's face and cooing at the way Baby Tana keeps fisting her eyes in an attempt to stifle her tiny baby yawns.
I think you are here, San. I think you're lying right next to me laughing and cooing and basking in the happiness of my new family. I think that you like Jack and how he can give me something you always wanted to.
I can't wait for my children to learn all about you.
I love you,
It was hard finding a spare moment today to write to you, but happy fortieth birthday up there in the stars and in my heart, baby. I bet you're still as beautiful as you ever were, if not more.
I can just hear you in my head going, "Baby, I'm forty, I look like one hot mama!"
It makes me giggle when that happens.
I apologise for the state of this letter. Bertie is sat at the table with his colouring crayons they just got for their fifth birthday and Louisa keeps knocking them over because she's trying to see how many cracks there are on our kitchen table. Baby Tana is sat on my lap sucking on her soother (we really need to wean her off those now) reading what I'm writing to you.
I don't think she's getting very far. They've only just started learning how to pronounce certain letters and how to count numbers. Hence why Louisa is counting the cracks on our kitchen table.
So there is peanut butter stains all over this paper and crayon marks and probably indentations from where Lou's fist has made contact with it. Honestly, San, you would have adored her.
Jack and Ralphie have headed out for the day to play some golf. They said that Q and I should spend your birthday with the kids so we are going to the lake nearby. Q stayed over last night and has just come downstairs for her morning coffee. Millie is busy watching TV in the playroom and apparently, Soph is still in bed.
I miss you today, San. I really want you here. I want to throw you the best fortieth birthday party that has ever happened. I want to show you how much I love you. I want to hold you in my arms and never let you go – just dance with you one more time. Ten more seconds.
Is that too much to ask?
I just want to smell your hair one last time.
I just want to look into your mocha eyes and feel that safety one more time.
I just want to touch the soft skin of your cheek for the final time.
I don't want to forget you, San.
Now I am crying and Q is getting all flustered. She's just ushered the kids out of the room so now I am alone with you. If I wasn't crying, I'd probably find the humour in that, hey.
I want to tell you about our children:
Bertie is so grown up for his age. He doesn't like games or sport or anything like that. He really enjoys writing and painting and drawing, so Q loves him as does your father. When your parents visit, your dad often takes him to the local gallery and he sits on your father's shoulders and just stares at the paintings for hours on end.
Lou is our little tomboy. She's got crazy blonde hair and loves to play with Millie. She is teaching Lou how to skateboard and even after several falls, she still loves it. She's also very good at playing card games. She keeps asking Jack to teach her the really hard ones because apparently, Sevens and Snap is far too easy for a magician like her.
And then we have our Baby Tana, who, by the way, is still very much a baby! She's got the darkest gold hair, nearly bronze, and she has Jack's tanned skin. She likes to sit; she will sit all day given half the chance. Your mom adores her. They get on like a house on fire. Your mom will sit with her for hours whilst she traces the lines of the floorboard, or eyes the stars in the night sky. Sometimes, it's like she can see you, San. Sometimes, it's like she can feel you. Your mom and Baby T often sit outside on the balcony just watching the stars. Tana doesn't say anything, she just watches. And your mom just watches too. It's like they're remembering; it's actually quite magical to watch.
Q has left a photo of us all at last year's Glee reunion so I can staple it to this letter. Lou wants to choose the balloon and Bertie wants to let it go. Tana hasn't said anything – as usual! The photo has us all in it with the kids. Mercedes and Sam had a little girl they named Angel; Rachel and Justin adopted a little girl from Zimbabwe called Imencia; Finn married this woman called Hannah; Mike and Tina are there with the twins; Puck's there with his wife and the girls; Kurt and Blaine are hovering by the side as if they are ready to leave in the next second; Mr Schue and Emma are either side of us but their kids couldn't come; Artie is standing on a walking stick next to Sugar and the most recent fiancé, and all along the floor are Q, her family and Jack, me and our family. It's a happy picture – I hope you like it, San.
I am going to rescue Quinn from the terribleness that is my triplets and get them all ready for your birthday. We are all wearing red.
I love you,
Can you believe that you, Quinn and I are fifty? How did that even happen? We are so old. Imagine what Coach Sylvester looks like.
I'm sorry I haven't written in so long. I'm not sure what I went through, but every time I tried to start a letter to you, it would come out wrong or I would just get frustrated and rip it up. It seemed that nothing was making sense and everything was all a jumble and writing a letter to you only served to prove that.
I didn't think women got midlife crises too.
So, I'm sorry. And San, I'm also so very sorry about your father. He was the most exceptional man and I know you loved him so much. I loved him too and I cannot tell you how much I miss him. But he is with you now and that makes all of us so happy. I hope you look after him and you show him the ropes up there. He deserves it and you deserve someone with you up there too.
I think I'm better now though, baby. Quinn phoned me every day to remind me where you are and where you live and Jack made sure that I knew he loved me every hour of every day. He would send me pictures of love hearts and of any kind of duck he would see during his day. It made me smile and that seemed to be enough for one day.
I just got frustrated though, San. I just got frustrated that I wasn't sharing this with you and that I wasn't allowed to experience a future with you. Because you are the love of my life. You are, San, and it hurt so bad knowing that I had that taken away from me. And I know that's selfish, I do... But if I could just have you in my arms for one more second, I would be happy again. I would be.
I'm mending. But I don't think I'll ever be properly fixed until the day I have you back in my arms.
I just forget that you'll still be the beautiful eighteen-year-old you were and I will be ancient. All old and wrinkly and grey – nothing that you could ever find attractive.
Jack took me away for our fifteenth anniversary. We went to Namibia on safari because you know I have always wanted to do that. We bought ice cream in Windhoek and I smudged it all over his face before I kissed it off. Just like I promised you I would.
I swear I could hear you giggling somewhere in the sky.
The kids are fifteen now. They are so old. I hate that for most of their early life, I wasn't happy. I hate it. I wish that I could turn back time to change that for them. But they promise me every day that it didn't affect them, that they are still happy.
I will do anything to keep them happy, San.
Bertie is still into his painting. He's painted his own room with poems he's written and all these crazy multicoloured patterns that he's so good at doing. He has a girlfriend, Clara, who he absolutely worships the ground she walks on. He's totally whipped, just like you were. Jack and I had a laugh the other day when we found a bottle of lemon juice in his bathroom cupboard. Talk about like father like son.
Lou is in this rock band with Millie. They have an agent so Lou is convinced she won't need to continue school and her life is set because her band has an agent and they are definitely going to make it. Jack and I are trying very hard to support her but also encourage her to keep going with her studies because she's actually very bright. She'd got this luminous blonde hair with dark black streaks in and I think she idolises Millie far too much. Q's youngest has dip-dyed (I think that's what the kids call it these days) her hair pink and Lou thinks it's just sooooo cool.
Our baby Tana has got her hopes set on Harvard to study Astronomy. She had a summer placement at the nearby Space Centre where she got to work in the labs and the dark rooms, studying photo after photo of constellations and galaxies. She's incredible. She just finds stars fascinating. Your mom still comes to visit us and loves to spend her time looking through T's telescope in her bedroom, both of them silently wondering if your dad is somewhere out there.
They often ask to talk about you. Bertie takes this masculine role, protecting me and telling me that even though I was a gay teenager, he still loves me and he still thinks I'm cool. Lou asks so many questions, I can never keep up. I have to get Q to help me out because she asks them a mile a minute. She wants to know everything about you and loves the fact that you could sing. She's even doing her own version of Valerie with her band sometimes soon. And Tana stays silent. She just listens and studies photo after photo after photo of your beautiful face. She's been so quiet about it that one day when it was just her and me in one night, I got my box out of everything to do with you in it. She read all of your essays that you wrote for me, all of the birthday cards you made for me and all of the drawings you worked so hard on for me. She found them fascinating. T finds everything fascinating.
Next week, we are all going to Sophie's wedding. And here's the fun part, San (although I am sure Q has probably already told you), Soph is marrying a girl! Her name is Brie and she's one of the prettiest young girls I've ever met. She reminds me of you – all fierce and hot Latina. Sophie and her met at school and Q just couldn't stop gushing to me every time Brie came round after school about how they were best friends and just like you and me.
They are a bit. Soph's blonde and Brie's brunette.
I remember telling Soph when she was sixteen that this one best friend only comes along once and if she was the one, she had to just take it and then run with it. So she did. And she could not have a more loving and accepting family to be proud about it for her.
My mom is ill, San, and I have no idea how to feel about it. She won't tell me what's actually wrong but I know that it's cancer. And I know that she's keeping it from me to protect me. I hate it. I really, really hate it.
T just came in to Jack and my bedroom and has curled up in between us. I will take a picture to attach to this message. She looks so cute. She likes to go running with Jack in the mornings. He says she keeps him fit and healthy but he doesn't need to worry. You can see him from up there in the stars and I'm sure your dad has told you... he's a pretty good-looking sod. Even if his hair is greying.
As is mine.
You wouldn't want to see that.
I love you,
My mom died. I don't know who else to talk to. Q is visiting Sophie in Los Angeles and Jack has taken Lou and Bertie back to Stamford. I don't know where to go or what to do... I don't think I can go through this again.
It was so sudden. It just happened. Overnight. Just like that. What do I do, San? Why, when someone who I really love falls ill, do they just go without so much as a warning?
I know that I'm old enough that I should be able to deal with this – I'm fifty-seven for heaven's sake! But it's so hard. It's just so hard.
I have to keep telling myself that she's now safe with you and with your father.
You'll keep her safe won't you, baby?
I have to go now. I need to call Jack.
I love you,
Albert and Clara had their baby today. She's named Jessica and she's adorable. She won't be able to attend Tana's wedding, though because that's next week.
I am a Grandma, San! And it feels so strange. So very, very strange. And Jack and I never thought Bertie would be the first! How weird is that? He and Clara were always so "we don't want kids and we never do!"
Sounds like someone I used to know.
Tana is marrying a scientist no less. They met at her first job during her course at Harvard. They live in a studio apartment on the outskirts of the city where they have about twelve different telescopes lined up at the open planned windows. Honestly, my daughter is so nerdy. His surname is Gold so she's going to become Santana Gold. How funny is that?
Q thought it would be awesome if his surname had been Red.
Next week, I'm going with Q to visit Sophie and Brie. They've adopted a little boy and Q wants to take pictures to take to the hospital. Ralphie recently had a heart attack and so he is under observation at the moment.
Lou and Millie are currently writing and creating music together in the city. It's so brilliant how well they have done for themselves. Q and I are so proud.
Jack is visiting his parents at the moment. They are both unwell and so he's taking some time to go and visit them so at the moment, it's just me in this overly large Long Island house. It sucks getting old. You would hate it!
I wish you were here, San. I say that in every letter but I mean it just as much each and every time. You would keep me company, wrap me up in your safe mocha arms and never let me go. You would let me sleep there, let me cuddle there, let me annoy you there – bite your collarbone and pinch your ears...
I miss those days when we were so young we had no idea about anything.
I miss you.
I love you,
I've heard a lot about you. I've also read a lot about you. You were a very important person in all of our lives; I don't think my mom would have let any of us ever forget that.
When my mother died, I promised her that I would keep her tradition going. I would write to you when I felt it right to and remember you on your birthday. I promised her I would find the perfect balloon, attach the perfect letter and send it into the night sky.
I like the stars. I'm sure she's told you that already. She told you a lot about us. I bet she kept you up to date with everything that we were doing.
Well, seeing as this is my first letter, I don't want to bore you. I also have my annoying little boy Wesley pulling at my arms to take him to the pond to see the ducks, something with Mom loved. We are going to meet his cousins for a walk and then for lunch.
Mom raised a strong family; we are all very close. I think she got that from you. She never wanted to lose any of us, especially Dad. He's taking this the hardest out of all of us. I think it would help him to write to her or maybe to you, but he was never that kind of person. He doesn't like to write. He just likes to jog. He could jog forever even in his old age. Sometimes Aunt Quinn gets scared that he'll have a heart attack like Uncle Ralphie. We've been through tough times this family, but we've pulled through. We always do. Mom was special and she will live on in us forever.
Just like you lived on in her.
And now, you will continue to live on but in me and my sister and my brother. And then through their children, and their children after that, and so on, until all that the world can see is you – you and your legacy, just as Mom always wished for.
Your story will be passed down from generation to generation, I promise.
We love you.
Aunt Quinn loves you.
Mom loves you. So much.