To the girl who told my daughter that her reasons for having a panic attack weren’t valid, let me enlighten you – and others like you.

Yes, you are correct in saying children are starving. Just a few short years ago a local church helped us out by giving us groceries from their food pantry while we went through a difficult time financially. Her father was desperately trying to find a local job in order to give up the truck driving job that kept him away for so many years.

They also helped pay our electricity bill to keep the lights on. And you were correct in saying that people were losing their homes every day. If you had taken the time to be my daughter’s friend you might know that we lost ours.

Have you ever lost your home? Have you ever been forced to pack up your life as you knew it and start over somewhere in a place unfamiliar to you? Did you find that you had no friends to turn to? It almost feels like you needed someone at some point in your young life and you had no one to validate your own fears.

To say that my daughter had no reason to have a panic attack because I forgot to tell her goodbye when I went to work shows me that you do not know her at all. If you did, you’d know that she lost her grandmother, my mother, very unexpectedly and it left a mark on all of us.

She was quite literally feeding us supper one night, telling us she loved us and would see us the next day, and gone the next morning after passing away not long after we’d left. If you had an ounce of compassion and had chosen to be my daughter’s friend rather than judge and jury, you’d know that not long after she lost her grandmother she pulled out every last one of her beautiful long eyelashes thinking that if she made enough “wishes” on them, her precious grandmother would come back.

Did you lose someone too?  Did it hurt so much that you couldn’t breathe or talk or cry? Did you need comfort that was never offered to you?

It breaks my heart that you are so young, and already so callous. I can’t help but think that you struggled with something and the compassion you needed wasn’t to be found. I also wonder – if you’d felt compassion, maybe you’d understand that finding out last week that her grandfather has cancer triggered all the fear and anxiety my daughter has worked so hard to overcome.

If you had taken the time to be kind, she might even tell you about her brother being diagnosed with brain cancer three years ago and how we still go for scans every six months, terrified it will come back. You’d know that despite therapy, time, distance, and meditation exercises the mere thought of potentially losing one of us is enough to drive her into a panic. And so she needs to hug us bye, tell us she loves us, or stay in touch during the day. Have you known fear like that?  Are you afraid of losing your own family now?

If you really knew my daughter, you’d know that she and I are extremely close. You’d know that I have an autoimmune disorder that has only gotten worse year after year, and her newfound anxiety has her very afraid of losing me.

She watches television; she sees the medication commercials. She knows the disease. And though I do my best to shield her from so much, I cannot shield her from my father’s frail form. I cannot hide my mangled, swollen joints. She is afraid she’s going to lose us. In reality, she will. We will all lose each other. You, too, will lose someone close to you.

This life is temporary. Every single moment is precious. I’ve taught her that. I also teach her to have compassion. I teach her that above all else, be kind. And I try to teach her not to worry and fret but I worry myself. I worry mostly because there are people like you who don’t know the whole story – don’t want to know the whole story – who will hurt her long after I’m gone.

I’m here now, though. And I will fight for my family with every fiber of my being and continue teaching them to be kind – always. Someday my daughter might be the kind, compassionate friend you’re looking for when you need it most.