Hi. My name is Leslie. I have auditioned for and won the role of your aunt.
Right now, you are still in your mother’s womb, waiting to arrive. You hear Mommy and Daddy and Nana and Papa all around you, in stereo. Trerio, even. You have no idea what a bale of hay has landed in your lap that of all the families in all the world, you ended up in ours. We cannot promise that you will like every minute, but we can promise that we will start a fund for your therapy. And by “we,” I mean Aunt Dana and me. We’ve grown up in this family. We know what it’s like. Plus, we’re not naive enough to think that the need for your therapy won’t come from us, anyway. Aunt Dana and I were rolling on the ground yesterday thinking about how your Mommy was never going to let us babysit and it wasn’t going to have a thing to do with us being gay.
What you’ll find is that it’s worth it. The heartache, the love, the laughter, the tears… it’s all worth it. I don’t exactly mean that our family is what’s worth waiting for, although it certainly is. I mean that you are a new person. You don’t know anything yet. Your tabula rasa doesn’t even have an eraser mark. What I’m trying to say is that you are so new, you don’t know that being born into any family anywhere is going to have that same laughter to tears ratio.
Who am I kidding? In this family, you will have trouble cutting off your laughter so that you can actually think about something seriously. Although Mommy will help you with that. She’s the practical one in the family. But even though she’s the most practical, she’s also, in my opinion, the funniest. What you don’t know about your Mommy is that you have to be really quiet around her, because her jokes are made so softly that you have to be listening close to hear it. But if your ear is attuned to find her voice in the commotion, you will laugh harder than the rest of us, because you get your Mommy on a daily basis.
William, there are very few people in this world that I love more than your dad. I’m not sure he even knows it, but I do. Your dad is a source of quiet strength to our family. He lives and loves so deeply, all without ever drawing attention to the fact he’s doing it. I hope you and your dad have long days on the back porch, just sitting there. I do that with Papa and it’s my favorite place to go- into the quiet with him where we know there is nothing wrong, we’re just glad to be together and we don’t have to use words to say it.
By now, you’re probably wondering a little about me. Believe me, William, you will know more about me than you know about anyone else in our family when you’ve figured out the verb “to Google.” But there isn’t too much on the web site about how I’ve prayed for you, carried you in my heart these last few months, just loved you even though I had no idea what you looked like or if your personality was like mine or anything else that might divide us when we’re old enough to be mad at each other.
There’s nothing on the Internet about how I’ve waited for you, that I’ve known this day was coming since I was a teenager, that day when one of my sisters was going to give birth and how that meant that I would have stock in a baby, too.
William, we are not related by blood. Your mom doesn’t have the same dad as I do. But I want you to know that I will only think that way if I have to look at your medical chart. I know that you will probably know this, anyway, just by watching our family, but we don’t use words like “step” or “in-law.” As long as you are alive, and long after you’re dead, you will always be my nephew, even if you can’t prove it with DNA. I feel the same way about your Mommy and your Auntie Caitlin.They will always be my sisters, whether you can prove it or not. I want my love for you to be bigger than the words that divide us.
Who haven’t I introduced you to yet?
The Doctor… oh, my God. It’s like I’ve just finished the seating chart and forgotten POTUS (oh, my God. We are going to have so much to talk about when you can understand TV).
The Doctor is one of the most beautiful people inside and out that I have ever met, though you won’t call her that until you’re older. But you will. Everyone does.
Want to hear my favorite joke about The Doctor, which she told me herself?
I have always wanted, in some small measure, to be an astronaut. When I was 16, I said that to The Doctor, because I had just met her then and she just seemed like one of those people you should be able to trust with that sort of information.
I told her that I thought it would be cool if she was a doctor on a space shuttle. I teased her about being a “Space Doctor.”
William, she looked at me and said indignantly, “I ALREADY AM A SPACE DOCTOR, LESLIE. I’m a ROOMATOLOGIST.
Do not engage in wordplay with The Doctor until you are ready, because you do not want to show up unprepared. It’s not that she’ll wipe the floor with you. It’s that part of the fun of wordplay is getting The Doctor to laugh. When she laughs, your insides will light up. It’s so pure that you have to hear it again, so you keep getting funnier.
I know I did.
William, I just realized that I want to stop this letter here and pick it up again in the future. You are such a new little person that writing to you feels like the best birthday present I’ve ever gotten on someone else’s birthday.
We’ll dedicate an entire letter to Lindsay.
P.S. I would be thrilled if you would call me “Auntie Leslie,” because I’m a writer (you’ll come to hate that, eventually). The name I use on the web site is “The AntiLeslie.” So you see, there you go. Another play on words.
You should tell The Doctor.
It’s fun to make her laugh.