Living, Loving, Learning: Leilani’s Letter

What is it like to grow up with two moms and a brother? I never had
two parents nor did I have siblings, but in a way, I guess I did.
Afterall, my earliest memories mostly consist of you, aunt Leilani,
and my cousin, Austin. I remember trecking through the airport heading
to see grandpa, my mother snapping pictures on an old 90s camera that
actually used film rather than creating digital files. I’d ride with
you guys in the backseat of the car, music blasting while my mom
tirelessly gave you directions as you navigated the chaos of
massachusetts roads. We’d grab a booth in a restaurant and eat dinner.
That, or go shopping, which for us kids at four or five years old,
meant playing in the toy section and eating all the food samples that
you and mom could find as you pushed us in those carriages which have
seats for us children.
Even then I loved words, and you loved to read them too me. You’d sit
and read to me until I fell asleep, and then keep reading into my
dreams. We’d read books far above the grade level stuff they made me
read in first grade, and it wasn’t long until I started coming to your
for spelling or definitions of words. Writing this tonight, I realize
that I owe my writing abilities to your ability to nurture a love of
English in my young child self.
When I was seven, you moved away and got married. I flew to meet my
new uncle Michael and sing at your wedding. That summer, I took my
first plane ride without my mom, flying with Aunt Kim to visit you and
grandma and Aunt Dani. I remember Riding in the car with you and
austin; a long car ride listening to country (your choice) and metal
(his). You told me stories to pass the time, experiences of life in
the navy and tales of you and my mom moving from state to state
working wide ranges of jobs some twenty years before. When I was 12 or
13, we did it again, (without two hours in a car) but with all the
stories of your passed which never got old.
You became my tech advisor, my movie recommender, my tv show
introducer (SG1, anyone?) I’d get flashdrives and hard drives in the
male and eagerly connect them to see what great finds you’d decided
worthy of showing me. Later on, the tables turned and I became a sort
of counselor, confidant, soundboard. You’d call me up at one AM,
sometimes to my chagrin, but I’d answer and have long, deep,
multifasceted conversations until three or four in the morning.
We differed considerably in our beliefs, and the way we handled
conflict. We were two people with our own strong views on how things
should be done, but at the end of the day, we related. We related on a
deep emotional, mental level. We knew how it felt to deal with
challenges, and the winding jumbled web of our own, often too crowded
minds. Neither of us possessed an affinity for telling people how we
felt, but by no stretch of the imagination did we not feel.
Wherever you are, take this letter as a tangible token of what you’ve
meant to me. These words are the gateway to the memories within, but
they are only the black and white picture of that which I will hold
with me for years to come. You’re probably looking down on us telling
us to stop blubbering and being all sentimental, but actually, this
post isn’t me commemorating your life, it’s me celebrating it just as
you asked me to do.
Now, do me a favor; find grandpa on that boat I’m sure he’s found by
now, and tell him I said hey. Do some fishing for me while you’re at
it.

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