An Open Letter To My Uncle

An Open Letter To My Uncle

It has been 12 full years since you left, and I miss you more each day.

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Dear Uncle Nevie,

I never really thought that I would be writing this letter, not now, not ever, but I am incredibly happy to write it. I miss you deeply more and more each day and want you to know how much I have accomplished over the past 12 years and how much you have affected my life.

I remember being little (like seven or eight years old) and seeing you almost every day. Whether you came to our apartment or we went to yours, you were always there. You called me "Girlie" when you saw me and gave me a little pink princess hat. I even remember you completely engulfing me when the dog tried to get me, putting yourself at risk.

It was 12 years ago, this past November that we lost you, and 12 years since I wrote my speech for your funeral. It was one of my most remembered memories from that time, standing up in front of all our family and friends (we both know I hate crowds) as a little ten-year-old. Mom and grandma sat in the front row watching me. Gram had no idea what was in store.

My speech went a like this:

"My name is Sierra. Nevin was my Uncle. I called him Nevie. He called me Girlie. I would always steal his hat. Nevin helped me whenever I needed it. He was always a very helpful person. I love my uncle Nevie very much and so did his family and friends. I will miss him very much but know he will always be watching over me from heaven. This is for you uncle Nevie."

As I read the line "This is for you Uncle Nevie," I took out my pretty pink princess hat out from the inside of the podium and plopped it right on top of my head, inside the church and everything. I looked up at everyone in the room, my dad over on the right side, my aunt who helped edit my speech, my mom and grandma in the front. Everyone had tears in their eyes, that's when I knew I accomplished my goal.

I showed everyone how important you were and how much you meant to me.

Every day, I think about you, and how much I miss you. I know you're constantly there looking down on me but I cannot help but wish you were here to see everything I've accomplished since you left. So I decided to write you a letter to give you a little bit of insight.

You passed away when I was in fourth grade, I don't remember much from middle or elementary school other than, I was one of the smart kids. But I graduated eighth grade and got ready for high school, which let's be honest was both terrifying and amazing at the same time. I went to high school, played field hockey and softball (I'm sure you're not surprised) and managed the boy's ice hockey team.

I took all honors classes, got decent grades, and survived. I had a long term boyfriend, for like 3 ish years. Fell in love, fell out of love. No, you do not need to kill anyone. Then it was time to apply to college, I applied to 13 got accepted to nine of those schools and committed to the University of Maine. I received an amazing financial aid package and enough scholarships to go through my undergraduate almost debt free.

I knew I wanted to be a doctor, I knew I had at least four years of school after Maine, so I picked the school with the best financial package. I was skeptical but shortly fell in love with Orono and worked so incredibly hard to make get into graduate school. The best way to describe applying to graduate school is TERRIFYING. But my hard work paid off, I was accepted to ALL four schools that I applied to.

Now I am just getting ready to finish my final semester at the University of Maine, graduate and then move across the country to Oregon to pursue my Doctorate of Chiropractic Degree alongside a Masters Degree in Sports Medicine. I have a dream of working with athletes at the highest level with my degrees.

So Uncle Nevie, it has been 12 long years, I have accomplished an incredible amount and been through even more. I wish you could be here to witness everything, watch me walk across that graduation stage not once but twice. Although you aren't here every day, I know you are watching over me. I know you would be incredibly proud of me.

Love and miss you every day,

Girlie

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A Letter To My Best Friend On Valentine's Day

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To my beautiful best friend,

Warning: This letter is about to get extremely cheesy. I am talking four cheese lasagna cheesy. But no one deserves a love letter like this more than you do.

This Valentine’s Day, I want to express my love for you. On this wondrous occasion with which most people express their love to their significant other, I want to tell you, my best friend, how much I cherish our friendship.

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You are the ultimate love of my life. Boys have come and gone but you remain a constant; for that I am grateful. You have been there for me when my family could not be; for that I am grateful. You have been my backbone, my rock, and all those other clichés people use to describe the people they care about, and yet you have been so much more than that as well; for that I am grateful.

All my love this Valentine’s Day goes out to you, my friend, because you do not receive it enough. You have picked me up out of the dirt, brushed me off, and kissed my wounds more times than I can count, and I will never be able to thank you enough for that, but I am sure am going to try.

Thank you for the midnight cries. Thank you for the midnight laughs. Thank you for ordering way too much food with me and still just eating it all. Thank you for the advice, both solicited and unsolicited. Thank you for telling me what I need to hear, even when it isn’t what I want to hear. Thank you for the silly pictures. Thank you for the stupid inside jokes. Thank you for making bad decisions with me. Thank you for laughing with me and laughing at me. Thank you for the endless memories.

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More than anything, I want you to know that I love you. I love you. You are the family I get to choose, the one I go to when I have nowhere else to turn. You are the one I know I can always run to, whether we saw each other yesterday or haven’t seen each other in a year. You have played a part in molding who I am as a person, and I am so grateful for having such an amazing person affecting my life in such a positive way.

With all the love in my heart,

Your friend
Cover Image Credit: https://www.facebook.com/natalie.pederson.5/photos

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Blood Doesn't Determine Family

Blended families are just as much of a family as a traditional one.

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If you look above, you can see that have a very large family on my mother's side. Between my grandparents, aunts and uncle, cousins and my own immediate family, we're at thirty-three members and counting. All branches of our family tree have busy lives, so we don't get to see each other as much as often as we would hope to. Christmas is the one time a year where we all finally get together for the evening. If you sat in on our holiday party, you may think that we have a couple screws loose, but there is no doubt that you would be able to feel the love radiating from room to room.

If you look at the picture I chose for my header, you can see all of the cousins gathered for our yearly picture. Dysfunctional, of course, but you can tell that love is there. Would it surprise you that out of our entire huge family, less than half of us are blood-related?

I come from a blended family, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Blood does not determine family to us. Love does.

Divorce can be a messy thing, especially when children are involved. Both my aunt and uncle had remarried into relationships that already had children. For the most part, none of us can really ever remember a time when we weren't considered family. We don't ever look at each other as not being related. We never will. Family to us is the love and support that is shared unconditionally between us.

As I said, you would never be able to tell we weren't blood-related unless I told you. Not only do we all look similar to one another (which again is odd, because if the marriages had never taken place, we would just have a ton of doppelgangers running around), but the love and passion that we radiate is unmistakable that we have a bond that will never be broken, let alone determined by biology.

Blended families tend to get a bad rap sometimes from some of the horror stories that can come from second marriages. Not only that, but some people still are stuck in the idea that the only socially acceptable type of family is one where the lineage is clear and concise. Although I can see where these people come from, I don't believe that because there is a lack of shared genetics between all of us, our love is any less strong.

Family is those who will answer a call or text late at night because you need someone to talk to. They're the ones that you end up staying at their house and talking for hours when you meant to make a quick trip in. They are there for you no matter the situation and always believe in you one hundred percent.

Traditional families have a lot of love too, undoubtedly. But please, do not tell me that my family is any less of a family of a family because of its makeup. We have just as much love between us as families with the same bloodline. Blood does not determine the amount of love and affection between all of us. It never will. We will love each other as much as a traditional family. We never look at each other as a mixed family, so please stop treating us as such.

I've said it so many times, but I'll remind you once more. Blood does not determine family, love does-- and I love my family more than life itself.

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