15 Year-Old Jessica Elliott Writes Me A Letter Re: My Memoir

A High School Student’s Response to LIES MY MOTHER NEVER TOLD ME

I just received the following letter from a fifteen year old student in Illinois. I was so moved by it I thought I’d share it with you. Jessica is a brave young woman and I’m amazed by the candor and honesty of her letter. I wish I’d been this self-aware and fifteen.

“Dear Kaylie Jones,

“In today’s world, there are so many setbacks and obstacles in life that it is difficult to maintain the feeling that “it’ll all work out in the end.” There are many things that make me doubt that I am strong enough to deal with the curve balls thrown at me and to cope with the cards I am dealt.
The challenges that we are faced with, or rather, the manner in which we deal with them, is what shapes our character and defines what sort of people we are. As I reflect on your memoir, I see the reckless and defiant girl who began drinking early in life profoundly changed by the end of the book after she has stayed sober for nearly twenty years and has had a child to be responsible for. The challenge you had to overcome was alcoholism. Mine is diabetes.
Jessica Elliott09I have had this disease since I was ten years old, and my father has always told me that I haven’t fully accepted it, to which I have always answered him, “Of course I have; that’s crazy.” Only, I didn’t admit that it was a problem. No, everything was just fine – I thought it was no big deal to skip medicine here and there, or not check my blood sugars because I didn’t feel like it at the moment. But whether I admitted it or not, my poor control of my diabetes was affecting me – blurry vision, sick days, etc. But all along, my frame of mind was, “Well, I’m still alive, so it isn’t really a problem. …”
Something had to change, or things would get even worse. However, as I realized while reading your memoir, you cannot deal with a problem until you have accepted that there is one. As that famous Alcoholics Anonymous prayer says: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
I don’t truly know who I am yet. My life is just beginning, brand new and full of potential and possibility. I cannot control diabetes – I don’t know why I got it, and I can’t get rid of it. But I can control my diabetes. I can take the medicine. I can check the blood sugars. I can make healthier choices. Just as the young woman realizes in your memoir, I don’t want to leave this world with any regrets about not making a different choice … a better one. I want to lead a life that anyone could look back on with pride and satisfaction.
Because of your book, I underwent a process. I have accepted that I cannot change the fact that I have an illness; but I will maintain the courage to keep fighting it every day. The effect it has on me can change. Reading your memoir has given me hope and the wisdom to know that I can control how to become the kind of person I want to be.”

–Jessica Elliott

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  • Thomas Borthwick

    Wow, what a letter. I'm still struggling with the idea that I have diabetes. It's been a little over a year now and I still eat pizza and pasta, which keep my blood sugar high. Old habits die hard, I guess. I always feel like, well, I'm around and I feel fine. But that isn't good enough. I could really learn something from Jessica.