I was in third grade the day my oldest niece was born. It was the week after my birthday, and I remember standing at my locker and thinking that morning, when my teacher was doing morning circle, I would have the most exciting news to share, and I would definitely end up being the Star of the Week, because my news was so completely awesome.
Anyway, cut to the here and now. My niece is getting married today. Actually, she got married a few weeks ago, and today had a ceremony and a reception for friends and family.
and I was not there.
and it is literally so upsetting to me that I cried about it a few days ago while thinking about what I'd say if I was.
I know some of you are reading this and doing the math, and wondering to yourselves how it is possible that I have a niece who is now married. or maybe you're reading this and not really caring about the details. or maybe no one is reading this at all. that's fine either way, but I guess in this moment, her age, and mine for that matter, really aren't necessary to talk about.
I think right now what I want to talk (write?) about is what I would say to my niece if I could be there, on this her special day.
My dearest, first little lovebug,
I know you may not be getting the best reaction from everyone when youve shared your news, and I have to admit, because I've never really sugarcoated things with you, that I did not immediately react so well to it at first either. I was worried, I was surprised, and I guess a part of me still is. and the only reason is because I love you, and I've always only wanted what I thought was best for you, which is silly, really, considering I'm your Aunt, and can barely figure out what's best for myself, let alone think I know what's best for other people...but you know what I mean. I always had this idea of all the things you'd do when you got older, and the things that we could do together, once you were all grown up. I think I saw us having the kind of relationship your mom and I started to have when we reached an age that the age gap between us didn't matter anymore.
and now, after i've gotten used to the idea of you making such an adult decision, I've realized a few things: 1. You are an adult! you're not the little girl andrew used to swing in the air anymore. You are smart and kind, and a wonderful young woman who is fully capable of making her own choices, and in this grand adventure youre about to embark on, well, you have the right things in your heart to carry you wherever you will go. It's not up to me or anyone else to tell you what to do anymore. Like my dad always tells me, my parents taught me as much as they could about values, ideals, how to know right from wrong, and all that other stuff about how to be a good person, and now it's up to me to do what I will with those lessons. It's that same thing for you. You are your own person, not a little girl anymore. You have hopes and dreams, opinions and ideas. and I believe that you will continue to grow into an even more wonderful woman than the one you are right now. and 2. just because you've decided to make this huge, life changing decision, doesn't mean all the things I hoped for you are not possible. If anything, they are ever more possible. because now, you've got this amazing partner to support you in every choice you make here on out. You have never been alone, but now you have someone who is along for this journey with you, as your equal, your other half, to help carry your burdens when they bring you down, and also share in your joys when they fill you up so much you feel like you might burst with happiness.
I remember meeting Dakota the night he asked you to be his girlfriend and thinking to myself...jeez this kid keeps calling me ma'am a lot. I remember you telling us all about him, and then when I asked him to sit down and stay awhile at your dinner table, he was so polite and answered every question I asked him..with respect, and honesty. He didn't pull his phone out to text people, and he didn't give me one word answers. After he left, I thought to myself...what a decent guy he was, how polite and hardworking, and how he was respectful to all of us from your mom to your brother, and most importantly, he looked at you like he would sit at that table for hours answering my silly questions, just to spend more time sitting with you.
And that's the most important thing. at the end of the day, you have found something that most people search their entire lives for. I don't think I'm much of a relationship expert, considering my track record isn't stellar... you've seen it yourself-- but I do know what it's like to be in love, to love so deeply it's like you've given a piece of yourself to someone to hold on to because your heart is so full. I believe you and Dakota have found that in each other, and together. You may be young, but that doesn't mean your love isn't any less real than it would be if you were my age. or ten years older than me. I believe that what you have will just grow, and the two of you will grow together, and stronger for it. I so wish I could have been there to witness this day, to stand with the rest of your friends and family and share in your joy. We all wanted to be there, I hope you know that, and understand why we couldn't be. Papi said it himself, as a parent (and a grandparent) you want to be there for all the important things, and even the not so important ones. But especially for the first things, because nothings as special as experiencing your loved ones special moments. And missing his first grandchilds wedding? that was something he never thought he'd have to miss. Please know that our hearts were there, even if we couldn't be.
I am wishing you so many things, more than I could possibly list-- a lifetime of happiness, a home filled with laughter, memories that will carry you through any distance that separates you, hearts that are open to the differences that may arise, kind words that lift you up in the darkest of times, and days that begin and end with you both feeling as in love with each other as you do at this very moment.
Congratulations lovebugs, and welcome to our family Dakota. love you so much! xo
...and somehow that turned into a very long open letter to two people who just taught me a thing or two about what love is supposed to be like. funny how that happens sometimes. join me in sending many happy wishes to the newlyweds :)
with a heart full of hope & a mind full of dreams