I don’t care what political party you consider yourself loyal to: In the last eight years, I’m willing to bet Joe Biden has charmed the pants off of you at least once.
For starters, he’s kind of adorable. (Remember that time he brought campaign workers free donuts and a Box o’ Joe, while donning a pair of Aviators indoors? C’mon, that was cute.) He’s also endlessly entertaining. (As anyone who has ever watched his facial expressions during the State of the Union knows.) Heck, he’s so well-loved that back in 2014, a toddler named Avery went viral for her obsession with him — and once he caught wind of it, he called her up just to chat.
Yep, good ‘ole Uncle Joe is pretty effing lovable. Which is why I was fully prepared to enjoy a clip of his appearance on CBS This Morning Thursday, in which he read aloud a letter he wrote to his 12-year-old self. What I wasn’t prepared to do was cry buckets of tears. BUCKETS.
In his letter, Joe candidly assures his younger self that all of the teasing he’s enduring at school will make him stronger in the end, and to listen to everything Mom and Dad are saying, because sooner rather than later, he’ll realize that their advice was the best advice of all.
You’re only 12. Your stutter is debilitating. It embarrasses you and the bullies are vicious.
But listen to mom when she says, “bravery resides in every heart and yours is fierce and clear.” Listen to dad when he says, “Joey, when you get knocked down, get up, get up.” Because if you listen, you’ll summon the bravery to overcome the stutter and you’ll learn to stand up to bullies.
You’ll learn from dad — who moved the family to look for work — that a job is about a lot more than a paycheck; it’s about your dignity, it’s about respect.
And that’s why you’ll follow your heart and serve your community, your state and your country.
Getting emotional yet? Just wait.
… you’ll also learn early — and later in your life — that reality has a way of intruding.
One day you’ll be on top of the world, only to be brought down in a flash with a profound loss and a grief that leaves a black hole in your heart, questions of faith in your soul and an anger, anger beyond rage.
That’s when you’ll have to dig deep and live what mom taught you — that out of everything terrible that happens, something good will come if you look hard enough. You’ll hold on with faith and pure grit.
In truth, Biden’s life has been famously marked by both outstanding achievements — like becoming one of the youngest people ever elected to the U.S. Senate at just 29 — and heartbreaking losses. (In 1972, a drunk driver would take the life of his first wife and infant daughter, and badly injure his two sons. Forty-three years later, his son Beau would lose his fight with cancer.)
But as his letter explains, he’ll one day realize that the heartache and suffering will all serve a purpose. It will help him empathize more with others, and fight for their rights just as he would his own.
You’ll realize that countless people have suffered equally or more, but with much less support and much less reason to want to get back up.
But they do, they get up. They keep going.
And so must you.
It ends with Biden telling young Joe that one day, decades into the future, he’ll find himself standing on a train platform of Wilmington, waiting for a young black man to come pick him up. And together, they’ll make the 124-mile trip to Washington, where they’ll be sworn in as President and Vice President of the United States.
Together, you’ll prove that change is hard but necessary, progress is never easy but always possible and things do get better on our march toward a more perfect union.
That’s the history of the journey of America.
And believe it or not, because you listened to mom and dad, you’ll help write it.
Keep the faith, Joey.
Oh god, BRB I’m crying again.
Watch the clip above to hear the letter in full, or read the full transcript here.