The first time I met Reyna, she was so tiny that I had to cross my arms to cradle her. She was born early and was an adorable little doll. I could put her in a little American Girl Doll bed and she'd sleep soundly.
Growing up, Reyna was shy, quiet and reserved. When we'd play "school," she'd be the last kid to ever raise her hand to answer a question. Although she kept to herself, she did love one thing: playing dress up. I can hear her tiny, Teletubby voice asking me, "Ate Lyssa, can you curly my hair?" We'd curl her hair, put makeup on her and slip her into one of our high school formal sequined dresses, safety pinning the straps because they were far too big on her. She loved every moment.
When Reyna was a teen, she moved away to Texas. Though she was miles away, I thought of her often and wished for her to come back for every holiday and party we hosted. After several years, she did just that. She came back and finished out high school back here in Northwest Indiana. My heart was full again. We re-bonded. She's joined us as our assistant and 2nd camera operator during weddings for LaBanca Productions. Her drive to work and show responsibility makes me so proud to be a part of her journey to being a strong, independent woman.
Playing dress up as kids was the best. But today, we got to play dress up in your cap & gown for your senior photos. You brought the gem 2021 tassel and even broke out Christian Louboutins! I loved watching your confidence during this session so much that I nearly cried. I'll never forget Ate Kristy shaking the Cherry Blossom trees so violently, yet not many cherry blossom petals actually falling. Your wide smile and posing gave me so much energy. Watching you grow from a tiny preemie to the woman you are today is an honor.
As the oldest of 11 paternal cousins, all I wish for every single one of the Griños is for them to lead happy, healthy and full lives.
Reyna, no matter what path you choose, I will be here to support you always. Follow and protect your heart. Choose happiness and light. Be a wisdom seeker and wisdom implementer. Finally, thank God every day for giving you the best role ever. Being my baby cousin.
I love you.