An Open Letter to Melissa

An Open Letter_awkward

The awkward girl without a book.

An Open Letter_highschool

The awkward girl with a book.

An Open Letter_now

The confident woman I’ve become. Thanks for helping me to make this possible.

Dear Missy:

I’m writing this letter and making it public now that school shootings have become a “normal” fact of life. To me, you are kindness incarnate, and though I may never reach such heights, your nature is a standard that I’ve made my own.

I was an awkward girl: small, thin, and poorly dressed. Your first instinct was to protect me. I don’t know why. I don’t know which of your experiences motivated you, but you saw me. You worried for me.

At the lunch table, when I made conversation so awkward with your friends because I hid in a book, I knew you tried to include me. You hoped I would swim in waters that I couldn’t navigate. Maybe when I was five or six, it would have worked; that was before everything went wrong for me.

My existence was hell on earth, and throughout my life, when things were the most dangerous for me, an angel has stepped up to show me the way out. You stand out in my memories as all the other angels do. While your efforts to bring me out of my shell, to protect me, appeared to have failed, you showed me the way out.

Each time I help another, I remember you. You didn’t care what I looked like. You saw through my ‘weirdness’ and my attitude. If I saw you in the hallways, you always had a smile to greet me.

That continued kindness made an impact on my very self-hood. You helped me save myself in ways you can’t imagine. Perhaps I would have shot up a school of innocents if you hadn’t reached out. Or died of an overdose somewhere on the east side of Baltimore.

There was so much potential for an unhappy ending.

The reason I’m telling you this is I want you to know you made a difference. You hoped I would thrive. I do now, but it was a long road. Your small actions were one of the lamps that lit the path to where I am now.

Others have expressed their admiration for your kindness, and the way I remember you, you will aver my praise and tell me that you didn’t help enough.  I say to you, seeds are small, but they grow into plants, crops, flowers, and trees. Never forget that every little kindness is powerful. That every plant that grows under your care will thrive even if you don’t see the fruit of your gentle labors.

I want you to know that when a butterfly flutters its wings, I think of you.

Thanks for reaching out,


©2018. I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved for text and pictures.


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