Mothers, Stepdaughters, Grief, and Love

On the passing of my mother and the love of my blended family.

Shane Paul Neil

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I don’t often post photos of my daughter (even the ones I shot). Mainly because there are people who I believe should have that privilege first. Namely Aliya King Neil and daughter’s father. I often refer to her as my stepdaughter because she has a fantastic dad whose toes I would never want to step on.

She is a terrific actress and singer, and not in a “that’s my BABY” kind of way. I got to see her perform in Heathers last night and she blew me away as usual.

In a post “give me a hug because you’re a child and I said so” world and because I’ve only been in her life for four years we have developed rituals to express our love and affection for each other.

She calls me Jonathan. She decided that before she ever met me. I believe it was to set “new nigga” boundaries, but it has carried on long after that. For me, it has become a term of endearment. I actually fear the day she calls me Shane purposefully.

She slaps my head after I shave it. Her palm hits my scalp sounds like steak hitting a cold pan. I pretend to complain that she does it too hard. She pretends that she will be gentle next time.

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Shane Paul Neil

Writer (duh) and photographer. Bylines @levelmag @complex @ebony @huffpo shanepaulneil.com