They make whole movies and documentaries about people who meet magical beings. Beings that defy the routines of normal life.
I knew a magical being in real life. I called her a ray of light, and her name was June.
One of the greatest compliments I’ve gotten in life, was when June referred to me as her best friend.
Over the last nine months of her life, I got to spend a lot of time with her, and we said “I love you” to each other almost every day.
June didn’t think she was special. She often said “I’m nothing.”
She couldn’t see what I saw when I looked at her. The love she had, the sacrifices she made, and the joy of realizing, at age 92, that you can be yourself. Every day. You can be who you are.
June told me that she knew at age 3, that she was a little girl. She was not the little boy that other people saw. Not the boy that she was told she was.
It was a different world then in many ways. She didn’t have the options that trans youth have today.
I’m not saying it is easy. But June found, at age 92, that most people in her community accepted her, even if they didn’t understand, and loved her for who she was, not for who they had assumed she was, or the clothes she wore.
I worked the night shift in the long term care facility where June lived, but we had known each other for three decades prior.
A year earlier, I cared for June’s wife. Within six months, June lost her son, her son-in-law, and her wife.
In a different way, she lost her daughter and grandson, because they did not want to see her as June.
Over the last nine months of June’s life, we had coffee together at 2 am, and we talked. At the end I did most of the talking, sitting by her bed.
We talked about big and small issues. One night, June looked at me for a while, and then said, “Nothing I can say will ever shock you, will it?”
Another great compliment.
June taught me that it is never too late to follow your dreams. As long as you have life, you can live it.
A month after June moved into the Care Center, I started the process to adopt children. I thought I was too old. Single. I thought it was impossible.
June shared my dream. She encouraged me. Like me, she was frustrated when things took too long.
And she was able to meet my son before she died.
Now I will raise him without Grandma June. But not really. June lives in me, through her words and lessons she taught me.
What I boil it down to is this: it’s never too late. It doesn’t matter what other people think or say. You are a unique person, and only you can determine the course of your life. There will be those who criticize you, but there will also be those who love and support you.
Dear June: I think of you almost every day. Your Star was on the top of our Christmas tree this year, and I kept pointing it out to the kids. “That is Grandma June’s star,” I said, and they knew what I really meant… I miss you.
I think of all the things you told me. About flying in airplanes during the war, about fishing, lipstick, the animals around your house, and how you cried every time you mentioned your wife.
I think of how I planned our trips to Duluth so you would have safe bathrooms, and how we laughed and reminded each other how much we loved each other.
I think of the last time we talked… when I read you the messages from Facebook, and you finally got to see baby Eleanor.
I miss our 2 am coffee time. Everything has changed for both of us since then.
Hi June. I miss you so much.
The other day, we bought an old travel trailer. She’s beautiful… a few flaws, but nothing I can’t fix.
We named her June. It was Raymond’s idea.
The camper gives me even more opportunity to tell people about you, and what you meant to me. I think about you every day. I love you.