Dear Future Niece,
When your mom and I were little, we went to the beach one summer with your Nana and PawPaw and even though it was vacation, and we didn’t have to, we decided to wake up before sunrise one morning and go fishing. We got all our equipment ready and made the short walk from the house to the beach, set up our fishing rods, and settled in for what would be a very unsuccessful fishing trip.
But I will never forget that day. We were young teenagers with most of high school still in front of us, and all of our lives after that. We sat in the sand talking about our dreams and wishes we had for our lives that were best spoken in the fading darkness and rising light of a summer sunrise. We talked about our weddings and the color of bridesmaids dresses we would never have. We confided in one another what we wanted in husbands and we talked about you. I was sure I was never going to have children so your cousins were never mentioned, but your mother smiled when she talked about you, even then.
It would be many years after that morning on the beach before your mother and father would meet each other but she still thought about you. “I’m going to bring my kids here one day,” she told me while we sat with our toes squished in the sand.
As we grew older her references to you became something more practical. “I’m learning Spanish because I want my children to be bilingual,” she told me when she was in the middle of figuring out her schedule for college. I laughed and asked if she was pregnant. Dad wasn’t amused.
After your mom and dad met and dated and got married, years passed and you showed no sign of coming. The very idea of you became a prayer so deep in your mother’s heart that sometimes even I missed the look of pain in her eyes when someone asked why she hadn’t had a baby yet. Your parents waited, and trusted God, and never stopped wanting you. A little less than a year ago I was on the phone with your mom and heard an odd hollow tone in her voice when she spoke about having a baby. “You don’t think you’re going to get pregnant.” I meant it as a question but stated it as a fact.
There was a pause, she took a deep breath, and simply said, “I don’t know.”
She had almost given up hope. Almost, but not quite, and when, weeks later, I received a call from her on a Friday afternoon I answered and she chirped an enthusiastic, “Hi!” Right away I knew.
Now, as you lay nestled in the womb of my sister, a week away from the day you are due, only God knows your name, but your family waits for you just as we always have. And no one waits with greater anticipation or excitement than your mom and dad. I see it in the way they’ve prepared your room and gone shopping for everything you’ll need to thrive in your days of infancy. I’ve seen it in the way your dad plays with your cousins and the way your mom has gone through every book on babies and parenting they’ve published in the past 50 or so years. They shine with joy as they delight in waiting for you.
They are not alone, my darling. If you expect to be quietly ushered into this life and spend your days in the relative quiet of your mother’s arms, you are in for an unhappy treat. If, however, you have felt the electric love flowing from cousins and grandparents, great grandparents, friends, uncles and aunts, then perhaps you are prepared for the avalanche of affection and devotion that you will be born into. Life is so imperfect and often times, very painful. I cannot promise you never ending happiness or even slight perfection. What I can promise is that you, my precious niece, will be loved every day of your life by a family that is large and imperfect and made up of so many who have prayed for you and hoped for you and whose love has grown from the moment the idea of you was breathed into existence so many years ago on a quiet beach in Florida as darkness faded and the bright golden light of morning overtook the sky.