I got a phone call from my Aunt on my birthday yesterday. She passed the phone over to my niece. Ash yelled “Happy Birthday!” to me. I was so happy to hear her voice. As we got off the phone she said, “I love you, Tio Dago…” I stupidly responded with “… what?”

I was shocked. No one says that to each other in my family. I stumbled over my words, and I said it back. 

I quickly got off the phone with Ashley.

I thought about how much we don’t say that in my family, and how I almost never heard it from anyone I share a last name with. Growing up I was so alone. No one but my mom ever told me I was special. I thought about how that might be Ashley’s reality too, and she’s looking for someone to say that to her that shares her Garcia blood. Maybe that scares her.

She’s only 11. She’s a princess that needs to be told she’s special. 

Her mother and I were raised the same, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, under all the pressures of running a broken home, my niece’s parents and my family don’t tell her how special and brilliant she is. 

Maybe things can change in our family through her big heart. I’ll try to help as much as I can.

Fuck, she’s cool. 

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