He arrived right on time, his delivery having been scheduled months before for the morning of 20 December. Shortly before his birth, my sister graciously allowed me to place a stethoscope on her stomach, and I can still recall the beautiful sound of his heartbeat, like waves crashing on the shore. Soon thereafter, mom, dad, and baby returned from the operating room, and I was lucky enough to hold him in the first hour of his precious life.
Through the years, he dunked cookies in my coffee until a smooth layer of sludge coated the bottom of the mug, drank from my Big Gulp cup that was only slightly smaller than him, and ate off of my plate as much as from his own. Every moment together was magic, and my stomach turned flip-flops with excitement whenever I drove across town to see “my baby”. We played with blocks, built Legos, zoomed cars, read books, worked puzzles, clicked through Dr. Seuss’s ABCs, blew soap bubbles, and sang songs.
And we laughed. We laughed sliding Beanie Babies down the banister, tossing a miniature football, watching Disney movies, splashing in the pool, and eating ice cream. His father once said that if he heard his son laughing, it meant that Aunt Julie was nearby. It is the finest compliment I have ever received.
My dear nephew is a couple of weeks shy of his 19th birthday and finishing his first semester of college. Loving him for almost two decades has softened my heart and given purpose to my life. I cherish being his aunt and am grateful that we remain close as he grows into adulthood.
Last week we spent Thanksgiving together. It was a major laugh fest.