Embracing Aunt-hood

There has been so much happiness in my realm lately.  Of greatest note is the birth of my nephew.  I have visited him twice and, while I may be biased, he is perfect.  I hold him and am mesmerized by the way his little face scrunches up this way and that, reminding me of his very-animated father.  He lies peaceful and serene, reminding me that there CAN be such peace and serenity, and that one does not necessarily have to be an infant to know it.

At my insistent request, my sister is sending me a couple of picture messages of him to my cell every day.  I am probably not the only one making this insistent request, and part of me feels a bit guilty for doing so, but this baby is a game-changer and I really just want to soak up as much of him as I can.

I am absolutely sure that my sister and her husband are soaking up as much of that love as they can, too.  My sister was fortunate enough to be able to take 12 weeks off from her job, and my brother-in-law runs his own business, which, although he is still quite busy, allows him to spend more time with him than if he were in a traditional 9-5.  I’ve wished many times that I lived closer to my sister.  I yearn to be closer and even now more so that my nephew has been born.

I am sure that if I lived closer, I would be knocking on her door every day, bugging the crap out of her, so it’s probably best that we don’t.  It’s funny, because I spent years and years.  Pretty much from 2005 — 2010 feeling like I was the last person on the face of the Earth that she would want to spend time with.  You know, having a sister who has (had) a very active mental illness was a lot to handle.  So I get it.  Really, sis, I get it.

And then things started happening and I started getting better.  The mania went away and the depression simmered down and I could actually hold a conversation.  With my sister.  Pure gold, pure love.  I felt like I was being given a second chance, and I didn’t even question my sister giving me another chance.  I was just too grateful.  For us to be close again, like we were long ago, would be all I would ever need from her.

And she started seeking ME out and sending me thoughtful text messages when she didn’t have time to call.  And then she started making time to call.  And I thought I must be the luckiest person on this planet to have a sister that cared like she did.  And I was so incredibly grateful that I forgot those nearly five years when we barely interacted, and realized, for the most part, that those five years where I was mostly apart from my sister, were my fault.

It wasn’t my sister who didn’t want me around.  It was me making myself completely unavailable for any of the things in her life.  She knew I wasn’t much for socializing, so she didn’t invite me to parties or get-togethers where there would be a lot of people.  But she wanted to, I found out later.  She did a lot of that, “protecting” me from all of the things that scared me.  She thought she was doing something good, and really, she probably was because a lot of the time I was a complete wreck and would have ruined any decent party.

But she wasn’t not inviting me places because I had a mental illness.  She was not inviting me places because she didn’t think I would have fun, because she knew I wouldn’t fit in.  Looking back on it, in that light, I don’t feel angry about those five years that I lost her.

I look back and I think of her asking me to be the maid-of-honor at her wedding, so surprised that she picked me out of all of her friends.  I look back to that wedding and remember the great time I had, and the great speech I made.  Of how close I felt to my sister, and even to her husband.

I look back just a little over a week ago, with my sister sending a text message telling me that I can come see my nephew in the hospital whenever I want, that I got priority because I was “Auntie Rose.”

I feel like I am a part of her life, and I am so very grateful.  I’m happy that we could get to this point and I look forward to all of the wonder and joy I am going to experience with her new little family.  No matter what, I vow to always be there for that little boy, my nephew.  No matter if I get really sick again, I will still be Auntie Rose.

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13 thoughts on “Embracing Aunt-hood

  1. That’s great to know you reconnected with your sister! How wonderful it must be for you! I’m an only child myself, and so is my husband, so I’ll never know the joy of having a nephew by blood. But I’ll be a Godmother soon, so that’s where all the love will go! Congrats to you and your sister!!

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    • Thanks, Terri! Yes, the reconnection with my sister has been amazing, and I am even more thankful for it now that I have a nephew. Whether by blood or kinship, ties to a little one can always be strong. I had an amazing Godmother, a great and courageous and strong woman in so many ways…she was a part of day-to-day life from infancy until she passed a few years ago. I hope you can be such a Godmother to your godson/goddaughter.

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  2. Such a beautiful story of love between sisters. I have one sibling, and that’s my sister. Having a sister is a special relationship with a bond like no other. I understand what you went through. This March is the 10 year anniversary of my first mania and diagnosis of Bipolar disorder. Now I feel that its the things that nearly break us, forcing us to bend like we didn’t know we could, that only launch us forward, closer to who we are to become…
    Thank you for sharing, beautiful post!
    God bless,
    ~Mandi

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  3. Congratulations on aunthood!

    I am glad you and your sister are able to communicate now and know where you are coming from. Feeling loved is a good thing 🙂

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    • Thanks, Marilyn! Family really IS the best and the worst and I think we have to remind ourselves of that when the going gets tough with a family member. Because a lot of times, they really do drive you crazy!

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