In the past, my novel about love and forgiveness had inspired people to change their lives. One woman told me it saved her life. Another said reading WHALE SONG changed her relationship with her estranged mother and they'd grown closer. So many stories about life-changing moments have come from reading Whale Song. That thought blows my mind.
Yet, here we are again, this time inspiring inmates of a prison. I don't know why they're where they are, but I do know that it's never too late to make changes, find forgiveness, seek forgiveness and start anew.
Vonnie asked me if I'd write a letter to the ladies. So I did.
I am so very honored that my novel WHALE SONG has been selected for your book club, and it touches my heart to know that some of you will be emotionally impacted by my words. I know this without a doubt, as that's been the experience for many, especially for those searching for answers about life's many challenges.
I won't pretend to know you, to know why you're where you are, but I do know this: life is about choices and often life isn't fair. No matter the choices you've made in the past, every day is a new day and an opportunity to make new choices.
You are survivors. I do know that. I'm a survivor too and it is what led me to write WHALE SONG. I survived bullying, racism, divorced parents, an alcohol overdose, rape, a suicide attempt, the death of my first baby, and the murder of my young brother Jason. These aren't things I share lightly and most of my readers will never know this about me. But I'm sharing it with you for one reason—to show you that we are not very different. Not really.
We all have hopes and dreams. Sometimes life crushes these and it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I promise you, there is light even at the end of the darkest tunnel. And you begin to see it when you make a choice to pursue the light…and your dreams. It's never too late to have dreams.
WHALE SONG has one very strong message, something I hope many of you "get." Forgiveness sets you free.
When we carry anger, resentment and revenge in our hearts, the only ones we really hurt are ourselves. When we can release negative feelings to the Universe, we are set free and can move forward, not back.
Because of the things that occurred in my life, some that led me to make bad choices, I had to learn to forgive. It's not easy, but it can be done. And it needs to be done so we can heal. Forgiveness is not for the others; it's for you.
If you come away after reading WHALE SONG and learn only one thing, I truly hope it is how to forgive. And that starts with forgiving yourself. Once you do that, you are free to dream and dream BIG. There are so many opportunities in life. Don't miss out on them. Make a difference. Make your life count for something. Dream…
Without dreams, we're just wandering along in life, barely existing. Dreaming can be scary. I know. But like Nike says, "Just do it." J I dare ya!
So today and every day when you wake up, tell yourself, "I forgive me. And I'm going to dare to dream and dream BIG."
God bless each of you.
Cheryl Kaye Tardif
Tomorrow, I'll post some of the women's responses to my novel and to my letter. Suffice it to say, WHALE SONG has once again changed lives. I feel very blessed.
If you feel moved by this, please pick up a copy of WHALE SONG and gift it to someone. You may change a life. You may even save one.