I have been waiting exactly 80 days for permission to post this. 80 days of giddy anticipation and overwhelming joy that threaten to burst forth in a most unsightly way on an hourly – hell, a minutely – basis.
But before we get to that, we have to briefly jump back in time. On a Tuesday evening in early December 2006, I got a phone call from my brother, Jeff that – all my usual hyperbole aside – changed our family forever. I was neck deep in a beast of a grad school final and Jeff – on a break during his third year of medical school – was at home in Bend with his girlfriend Christie, also known as The Creep. I was in quite a mood when he called and nearly didn’t answer the phone. He was calling after 11 p.m. and frankly, I didn’t particularly feel like talking to his perhaps intoxicated, vacationing ass. I’m real glad I picked up the phone. After listening to my complaints for a few minutes, he got about this far before I realized what was happening, “Welp, Sister, I’ve got some news…” Commence the shrieking on my end, the laughing on his and then a whole mess of tears. My brother had gone and done the smartest thing in the entirety of his 26 years, locked that Creep down for life and increased our family of five by one. That night and their wedding a little over a year later were two pretty spectacular evenings.
Fast forward through a cross-country move to New York (hers), a medical school graduation (his), the wedding and finally, relocation to Sacramento (theirs) and we find ourselves on December 23, 2010, in Bend. We were all together to celebrate Christmas for the first time in years – my parents, Jeff, Christie, our brother David and me. We had all finally arrived and were sitting in the living room when J & C handed my mom and dad a wrapped package, saying it was an early Christmas present. My mom opened it and I sort of half-interestedly looked over her shoulder. I believe my thoughts were simultaneously, “Huh, that looks like a picture of something.” and “Where did my beer go?” The seconds it took me to think those things were the equivalent of, “Welp, Sister…” because, in the next instant, I totally, completely, uncontrollably lost my shit. It was, as you have likely figured out, an ultrasound picture. And suddenly, with the addition of Baby Creep, our family of six became seven.
I may never know quite where I land on the idea of love at first sight, but I can promise you that love at first thought is a very real thing. From sometime after 8:00 p.m. on December 23, 2010 until now, I have fallen increasingly, steadily, incontrovertibly in love with my niece. I am crazy for this kid in a way unlike anything I have ever known. I don’t think I even have the capacity to imagine what it must be like for her parents. An ultrasound picture of her is my desktop on my work computer and the wallpaper on my phone. If you have seen me in the last several weeks – and this includes at least one complete stranger and a first date – you have found my phone thrust in your face as I have asked if you want to see a picture of my favorite person ever. I no longer burst into full on tears when I talk about her, but I haven’t yet managed a conversation without getting at least a little bit emotional. I have gotten teary at work, on the bus, in public restrooms and for some bizarre and really inconvenient reason, nearly every morning as I put on mascara. I just love the little babe so damn much. Golden retrievers, hotel swimming pools and 4th of July fireworks all had a fine and admirable run, but I have a new most favorite thing in the world.
I spend a lot of time thinking about all the obvious stuff – What will she look like? When can I go visit her? How often can I go visit her? Should I just move to Sacramento?! But I also spend a fair amount of time thinking about the kind of aunt I want to be as she grows up. I think it’s safe to say that my performance in all the roles of my life thus far – daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, student, employee – has ranged from not-so-hot to pretty awesome. I’d venture a guess that if I ever add wife and/or mother to that list, I will encompass an even wider spectrum, at both ends. As an aunt though, I have decided that anything less than perfection is unacceptable. I want to be good to her and for her, which seems simple enough, but I have a feeling will teach me a lot more than I can even imagine right now. The good thing is that the same way I’ve never been anyone’s aunt before; she’s never been anyone’s niece. If she turns out anything like her parents, I predict that they will have a crazy smart, feisty twerp on their hands from Day One. I see it as my job to encourage those behaviors to their fullest. The rest we’ll figure out together.
The most mind boggling part about all of this? As deliriously happy as I have been since December 23, I know that it will increase exponentially later this summer when the dear darling makes her entrance into both the world at large and the family that is so eager to meet her. I may not understand exactly how it’s possible to feel this way, but I am so glad that it is.