People I Loved Who loved Me Back
It’s important that I back my story up and tell you about Leo Lewis. We were children, but I loved Leo from the first moment I saw him and I believe that’s when he fell in love with me too. It was Leo who became my first friend. Leo who kept the other kids at school from picking on me. Leo who listened to my secrets and told me his. Leo who planned a future with me and made me believe that anything was possible.
Leo was born to an unwed teenage mother just like I had been. His mother had given up her rights in hope that Leo would be adopted by a family who could give him a better life than she could provide. She had never held her son. She never really saw him. She was unaware that he had been born with a heart defect that would require surgery and prevent any family from wanting to adopt him. His defect wasn’t fatal, but the surgery was expensive and families were afraid to adopt a child that would require so much medical attention as such an early age. Any families that were offered Leo opted to wait for a healthy baby.
Leo spent the first six months of his life in the hospital and the three years following that moving from one foster home to another. He started acting out, became a discipline problem and was moved to a county group home. Leo told me once that going to that group home was the best thing that ever happened to him because he never would have met me otherwise.
The boys in the home had to share everything. Leo slept in a room with five other boys sharing three sets of bunk beds. Leo was the youngest and therefore learned to fight for what he wanted at an early age. The counselors that ran the house were more interested in receiving their weekly paychecks than in actually helping the boys. As long as things were quiet and there was no visible blood or bruises no one stepped in to stop the bullying that went on daily.
I was eight years old when I first met Leo and only eleven years old the last time I saw him. He was a year older than me, but he had not passed the third grade so we were together at school. According to Leo, not passing the third grade was the second best thing that ever happened to him because it allowed us to be in the same class. Leo wasn’t dumb he just didn’t have any one to support or help him. He had been alone in the world until I came along. We were kindred spirits.
Twelve years passed between the last time I saw Leo an the day I died, but I never stopped loving him, waiting for him or hoping we would find each other again.