My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Met Her.

It doesn't take very long for newcomers to my blog to realize that I am a doting and devoted aunt.
I couldn't love my two red-headed nieces more if I had birthed them myself.
I post so many pictures of them that if you didn't know better, you'd think they were mine.
I'm one of five kids and my parents have 12 grandkids, which, if you're doing the math, you realize that subtracting out my three kids, there are nine grandkids which were not birthed to me therefore, beyond the two red-headed little girls (+ their best friend, Jorjanne, my adopted niece) there are seven more nieces and nephews in my family.
In my family. In my heart. But sadly, not all in my life.
My brother Michael lives in Chattanooga. I see his two sons about once every year or so. They don't do holidays so we don't "gather together" so to speak. They are good boys and he's a good dad but we don't see each other enough for his kids to be really comfortable around me. His daughter lives in Nashville and is grown and a mother of two. It's been years since I've seen her, although we facebook often.  (Love you, Tiffany!).
And then there's another brother for whom there is a bit of a broken branch off the family tree. He has four kids: 13, 8, almost 5 and 3. Up until five years and four months ago we were very, very close. Something happened that splintered us and - for many reasons that I can't really go into - his family has kept a distance from our family.
In three days it will be five years since his little girl, Maddie, was born. On that day, I was inconsolable, living in Jacksonville and already feeling very, very alone in a marriage that was anything and everything except what I thought it would be. Knowing that another precious treasure had come into the world, another niece, that I might not ever meet was more than I could bear. As I bought her baby gift - a gorgeous little dress with tiny little cardigan - I grieved the thought of having a niece that I would probably never meet.
Believe me when I say that just as you can love a child the moment they come into the world - you can grieve a child in the same way. And, man... that was a raw and miserable wound for me.
Time went by. My life took a lot of twists and turns. By the grace of God, I moved closer to my red-headed nieces. By His same loving hand, for reasons that He understands better than me, I moved away again. They know me, Sarabeth and Jamie. We share special memories and private jokes and favorites songs. I know where to go for the car rider lane at their school. I know their little friends and they know me. These girls are such a huge part of my life and I am so grateful to know them like I do... but I have always grieved this sweet little Maddie that I had never met.
Until today, that is. Today. Three days shy of five years I finally met her.
She is beautiful with fair skin, dark eyes and long dark wavy hair. Snow White's coloring, every bit a princess.
As vivacious and outgoing and energetic as my little Jamie... not the least bit shy... or afraid of this stranger who walked through her front door... she chatted with me and told me all about her birthday in three more sleeps and her birthday haircut that she's getting and...
I...I just drank her in with all five senses...
I didn't dare whip out my camera and start taking pictures because, as it turned out, we missed a text message and didn't realize that our visit was "not at a good time" for them.
Turd in a punch bowl sort of awkwardness.
It took five years for me to see her and it was only a brief, very few minutes but it was so, so precious.
She has a little brother. He looks just like her big brother. So much like her big brother that it seems as if time stood still and the five years since I saw three year old Caleb had not gone by... as I listened to sweet, animated, three year old Joshua telling me all about Star Wars and Superheroes and trick or treating and all these wonderful, wonderful things that he wanted to share with me... and I would look over and see Caleb and realize how much time I've missed... and then focus back on Joshua's carefree, honest chatter, so grateful that he wasn't afraid to talk to me.
Me. His Aunt. Who he had never met.
And when our brief visit came to a quick end... and we grieved a little more in the car on the way home... that this branch has splintered and that these kids are not a part of our lives...all I could think was...
"I met her. I finally met Maddie."


Adirondackcountrygal said...

I hope you get to go see them again soon!