My dear,

Yesterday, as you cried about how you failed (yet again), you told me how those must be the saddest words ever spoken.

I’ve thought about it, and you’re wrong. The saddest words ever spoken were not “I failed,” or “I tried and failed.”

For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been’.

So cheer up.

You tried, and contrary to popular (and your own) belief you are one of the happiest people in the world. Because you tried. You had courage to try. And few of us have that courage.

Falsely yours,
John Greenleaf Whittier