Dear Me by Cathey Graham Nickell

Vitality Stories

Dear Me by Cathey Graham Nickell

Dear Me,

Today is our birthday! I’m turning 54, while you celebrate your 28th birthday. Some things are about to happen. We dislike surprises, so I want to prepare you.

In two months, divorce proceedings will begin, and you don’t have a job. You’re probably going to start wondering why you quit your public relations job at that large medical center to become a full-time mom. Sweet Mason is only ten months old when his father moves out. Did I already say you don’t have a job? Right. Even though you’ll soon start to question the decision to quit working outside the home, you did what was best for Mason. Don’t wallow in regret!

Right about now, Mason is learning how to sit up alone, how to crawl. He’s getting a new tooth. In two months, on the day that the Big Thing happens, Mason is going to take his very first steps. It’ll be a day filled with the heartbreak of a failed marriage, mingled with exciting toddler milestones.

Cathey, I have some birthday advice, and I hope you listen.

  1. Don’t push Mom away. You’re correct. She’s never been through a divorce. But she’s very intuitive. Listen to her. Accept her offers to help.
  2. Don’t grieve too much over this breakup. Sure, it’s a Big Thing. It is! And it’s sad for Mason. But you are both going to be okay.
  3. Your husband isn’t being honest, so pay attention. You’ve already seen a few red flags, but you think it’s your imagination. You’re afraid to acknowledge what you know is true. But you’re right, and you’re going to learn to better trust your gut instincts after this.
  4. Guess what? He’s going to be a worthy, dependable father. In time, you two will learn to get along and forge a new friendship. It’ll take awhile, but it’s going to work out.
  5. Be patient. You don’t need a boyfriend or husband to feel complete. As soon as you figure that out—by the way, it’s going to take you a few years to figure that out—you’re going to meet and marry a wonderful man! It’s funny how that works out; but you’re going to be so much more prepared for the second marriage. Mom likes to tease by saying, “Marriages are like pancakes, you throw the first one out!” This ends up being true, for you, anyway … and it’s funny! Life’s going to be tough for a season, but in time, you’ll start to laugh again.

Back to your lack-of-a-job concern. Don’t forget how tenacious you are! You’ll do so much freelance writing that it will enable you to continue staying home with Mason for awhile longer. He needs this comforting time with you, so don’t worry. You’ll rejoin the workforce soon enough. And since we don’t like surprises, I’ll set your mind at ease: next year—when Mason is a bit older—a former boss is going to hire you to work in your previous hospital P.R. position. Yes! The very job you quit to stay at home with Mason! Then, you’ll change paths and work for a university, where you’ll take free classes to earn a master’s degree. In time, you’ll even move to a larger city—a place that will spark your creativity, leading you to write books and grow as a person.

Surprise! And Happy Birthday.



Cathey Graham NickellCathey Nickell is a speaker and author based in Houston, Texas. Her children’s picture books,  Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car, and Yazzy’s Amazing Yarn appeal to both children and adults and is award-winning. Cathey has a talent for finding niche stories. She tirelessly visits schools nationwide to inspire children to “be amazing” and to create their ideas. She has some amazing stories up her sleeve, so keep an eye on her future releases.

Dear Friend,

Don’t you just feel for young Cathey in that moment she realizes her life is seemingly falling apart, and she is a single, unemployed mother? She thinks she doesn’t have help, is being slammed with surprises (we know she hates surprises), and yet, she has all the resources and solutions at her fingertips in the long run. Everything works out beautifully.

Though I don’t have children, I relate to Cathey’s strong sense of independence and resourcefulness. I’ve been in the position (aka opportunity) to choose to leave my career to pursue a new experience. It was scary as sh!t to make the choice. I wrote about this last week, but my comfort zone is being independent. And I tie my independence to making money and being resourceful.

What thoughts does Cathey’s Dear Me letter trigger for you? Feel free to email me in confidence. And if you want to write a Dear Me letter, let me know. Psst. You can even write it anonymously.

Thank you for being you,



Previous Dear Me Letters:
Dear Me by Lisa Manterfield
Dear Me by Bobbi Mason
Dear Me by Mary Jo Hazard
Dear Boobies by Teri Case

Teri Case Vitality Stories

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