- •My mom divorced my dad when I was a babyTo save money she moved into a building she managed where she befriended a tenant named Richard
- •Richard took care of usHe was gay but closeted, at the time, and wanted to live the life of a nuclear family man. He was 23. He moved in with my mom and helped raise me.
- •Eventually we moved out and he moved onI was sad about that, I never understood what was happening, why he didn't live with us anymore. But we kept in touch and he was around until my teens.
- •He was the funniest person.I remember developing a sense of humor basically as a means of keeping his attention. I loved him desperately and still do.
- •He made beautiful thingsHe was an artist and interior designer. He created beauty wherever he went. He made oceanic paintings of incredible haunting depth.
- •Two years ago I ran into him on a planeWe caught up and made plans to meet again, but they didn't pan out.
- •Late last year my mom got a text messageFrom Richard. He'd been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, had maybe months to live. My mom and I got on a plane. I had no idea what to expect when I arrived. What state he would be in. Where he even lived.
- •We went to see himAt his parents house where we used to spend holidays when I was really little. He had transformed it from a snugly little cottage decorated with Swedish accents to an elegant bungalow filled with silky grey tones and antiques from across the world
- •We found him walking, talking and full of gratitude.He talked about when I was little. Stories I never heard about from when I was a toddler. I began to realize how deeply he loved me. I had always thought that he had abandoned us for a better, more glamorous life.
- •He carried a picture of me in his wallet always.That's something I only found out today, when my mom called to tell me that he died.
- •Your family can be anyone.And when I was a little two foot tall terror, Richard gave me an enchanted world to inhabit. He made me who I am. And I got to tell him that.
- •Tell the people you love what they mean to you.And don't ever, ever minimize the role of non-nuclear parenting. I am the luckiest person in the universe to have known Richard, and all the other amazing, perfect, LGBTQ people that were a part of my life growing up.