When my niece Shannon was pregnant, I kept campaigning to name her baby Brianna, as that is my favorite name. Luckily it was on her short list, and Brianna Nicole was born 4 years ago this past June.
When Bri was born, I loved her with all the desperation of an old childless auntie. Her mother Shannon was also so special to me, and now her daughter was my sun, moon and stars.
I saw Bri almost every day. I would drive there straight from work, and I would hold her, feed her, read to her. I was there for her first steps, first words, first spitting contest! When I came in the door, her face would light up and she would say “auntie!” and I felt so loved.
Then she turned two and everything changed. No more kisses, no more hugs. The more I begged, the more she would purposely turn away. It broke my heart and made me cry. I tried everything. I tried too hard. It became a game for her, I think.
When she was three, I got a new kitten, Izzy. She was madly in love with Izzy and came over almost every day to see Ozzy and Izzy. Then I would try to blackmail her and tell her she had to kiss me too, not just Izzy. Blackmail doesn’t work with a three-year old. It wasn’t that she didn’t love me. She was just in that phase where she didn’t want to sit in laps and give out hugs and kisses. She would rather run down to the lake or chase a kitten. But still.
And then it happened. It all changed. I got more hugs and kisses than I could handle. What changed her mind?
I think it was her compassion for and worry for sick people. She loved her Papa so much, my sister’s husband, and when he passed away from a heart attack in December, she was the practical one, who spoke to his star in the sky every night and then comforted my sister and niece and nephew with her messages that she passed on from Papa. I remember one time shortly after he passed, my sister was making coffee in the morning, and was very sad and sniffling a bit, as her husband had always done that. Bri gave her a big hug and said “Papa said don’t be sad Grandma, he’s ok”. Wow, huh? Out of the mouth of babes…
Then I discovered I needed a hip replacement. Bri was very worried about me, and checked my leg every day. I got so many hugs and kisses then. When I went in the hospital, she came to visit several times and always wanted to see my bandages and my incision and all the blood and guts. She would pat my leg and say, “Aunt Janet, I LOVE your new leg!” She would help me get up, and cover me up when I laid down. She was always in attendance when I came home from the hospital for bandage changes. She was very good at it! I think this is her calling in life.
I don’t know if things changed because she was just growing up, or because illness triggered her heart, but whatever it was, it has continued. She RUNS to see me every day, and hugs and kisses me as much as I want. I LOVE it.
And I’m not going to think it’s because of all the quad rides I give her that she loves…..