I’m a latecomer to the world of Judy Blume. I had heard of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret., but I didn’t know anything about it – or about her. As the movie of the book was nearing its release, I read how meaningful the book was to so many who grew up reading it. Blume seems to have always had her finger on the pulse of her audience.
According to her Wikipedia page (here), she has published over 25 novels across children, young adult, and adult genres – plus three non-fiction books. This year, Time Magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Her awards and accolades are impressive, but they are not what draws me to her.
Watching Judy Blume Forever, the Amazon documentary, I was immediately taken by the warmth Blume radiates. It’s in the tone of her voice and the easy smile she wears. As much as I enjoyed learning about her life and her books, I was most touched by the letters.
Stacked file boxes were filled with letters written to Blume by children of all ages over the years. They wrote to her as a trusted friend, and she responded in kind with thoughtful, caring responses from her heart.
Some of the correspondence lasted years, and one led to her attending a high school graduation at the request of a long-term correspondent. Several were interviewed as adults, holding the letters they received from her, clearly cherishing them still.
They turned to her because they had no one else they believed could answer the questions they held in their hearts. They knew she would understand and that she’d be honest with them. They could tell her anything, knowing there would be no judgment. And all were true.
Reflecting on Caring
My heart went out to the children who wrote those letters. I could have been one of them.
It took me until my late teens to find my own Judy Blume in the Dean of Women at college, who became a dear friend. She helped me make sense of the senselessness in my life, showering me with the warmth of acceptance and understanding. She cared deeply about me, and I began to flourish.
In my own small way, I offer that back to others in my life. I recently received a touching note from an artist I met last year. He had printed his beautiful line drawings on tote bags that he sold at Union Square, and I bought a dozen or so of them to share with friends.
We spoke on and off for a few months, and then nothing until this note arrived to say hello. It turns out that he had been struggling when we met, and I had sensed a bit of that as we spoke. Since then, his work has expanded into new areas and it’s quite extraordinary.
He thanked me for believing in him, and for appreciating him and what he does. He said I helped build energy in his life that allowed him to push forward.
Of course, he did that himself – it was not me. But it does speak to the power of being genuinely caring and supportive. It creates a safe space that is empowering, and that is a gift we can easily give to each other.
It’s rare that we have the opportunity to know the impact we have on others. A kind word can seem like nothing, but when it comes from the heart and is directed at someone we see with full acceptance before us, it can make all the difference in the world.
“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”— Margaret Mead
Who’s world can you help change today?