Sometimes life throws you a bone just when you need it and in a way you never would have expected.
I've known for weeks now that my niece Shannon was going to come and visit me. And in the interim, there's been a big part of me that was looking forward to it, and an even bigger part of me that was dreading it. I can't tell you how glad I am that I didn't succumb to the latter and cancel the visit before it happened.
As I've mentioned previously, this has been a really difficult winter for me. I've been on the verge of a complete emotional breakdown for weeks since the end of January. So it goes without saying that I haven't been feeling very social, or capable. Thus, stepping into the role of "good uncle" or even "stable adult", gave me great pause. 'Cause you want to put on your best, brave face and show your visitors a good time, whether family or friend, and I wasn't sure I was up to the task.
Guess what though? I didn't need to be. Because my niece has grown into a very beautiful, intelligent, and capable young woman. One that I've found a new admiration for. It took us very little time to find our common ground and bond as families should, and I discovered very quickly how nice it is to have a friend and ally in your bloodline. Her boyfriend Andrew is nothing short of a wonderful young guy, with a good head on his shoulders and Shannon's love and best interests at heart. I really can't quite put into words how much I enjoyed their visit and how good it was for me to connect with family at long last.
Amidst the late night take-out Chinese food, conversations that lasted well-beyond bedtime and the most brutal snowstorm in recent history, I discovered a family member who has never stopped loving me, even though I ran away. In fact, she understood "why" I had to, and shared the stories of why she's taken a similar path through similar circumstances. I learned about her family life. She learned about mine. And we bonded over the realization that you can survive and come out on the other side a well-adjusted and "good" person, even when you forsake what you've been taught to revere. ...It doesn't hurt that we shared a good cry all the way through a viewing of "The Notebook", as well. Vulnerability can be very endearing.
Ted was thrilled to invite members of my family into our home. Something we've done so rarely over the course of 12 years. I think that he enjoyed Shannon and Andrew's visit very much. And I know Shannon has always thought the world of him. I was very touched by her curiousity about our relationship... ie: how Ted and I met, whether or not we'd ever get married, things we've been through... etc.
I'm extremely grateful to have had the opportunity get to know my niece. I hope I adequately expressed just how welcome she is in my life, and my home. She's a blessing and a delight and I could only hope to have the opportunity to get to know her sister, brother and cousin in the same way. It's very surreal to realize your nephew and nieces are busy becoming spectacular adults. It makes me regret how much of their childhoods I've missed, but it also gives me hope that their opinions of me aren't shaped or formed by the same, oppressive upbringing that I had.
It makes me feel like I have ties to who my family is, and that I'm still a part of something bigger than my own isolated life.
Chantal Kreviazuk - Time
Where did you go?
Why did you leave me here
Don’t go so fast
I’m missing the moments
As they pass
Now I’ve looked in the mirror
And the world's
So wait for me
I’m down on my knees
I’m begging for all
But you (I’m just an illusion)
You don’t seem to care (I wish that I could)
You humble people
everywhere (I don’t mean to hurt you)
Now I’ve looked in the mirror
and the world's
what you give me.
that I’m learning
for me this time
I should’ve known better
I shouldn’t have wasted those days
And afternoons and mornings
I threw them all away
Now this is my time
I’m going to make this moment mine.
(I shouldn’t have wasted those days)
What you give me.
That I’m learning
In the mirror