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Had an impromptu photoshoot with my niece last weekend. She’s 8, and absolutely amazing. The oldest of three girls, she suffers severely from asthma, but she never lets it get her down. Since she was a baby, she has had to have shots and breathing treatments on a regular basis just to catch her breath, yet, every time I look in her eyes, she takes away mine.

We used to keep her for the weekends when she was younger. The first time she went to sleep without a ‘binky’ was when she stayed with us. Her energy, wonder and excitement about everything new she encountered made me feel something in my gut I never had experienced. I wanted to be a mother.

I don’t see her as often as I’d like.  Now, I will see her even less. Her mother is from California, over half way across the country from us, and she is moving her family back there to be closer to hers. I understand the need to be close to family; she’s lived a long time away from hers. Still, it makes me sad to see her leave.

She has a bright future ahead of her. I pray she stays on track. She’s so smart, yet has much responsibility for just being 8. My promise to her is that I will stay in touch and always remind her how special she is to me.

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