Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Unclehood

What does it mean to be an uncle?

No one tells you what it means to be a brother, a son, a daughter or a parent. We learn what the responsibilities and expectations of being a family are member through societies norms but that doesn’t really take us to a place where we really feel what it means to be a family member.

When my brother, Ed, told me that he and my sister-in-law, Laura were pregnant last summer I was ecstatic. The idea of them extending all of their love and who they are to another person was one of those things that gives me hope for the world. This truly was a beautiful thing.

As the months past, this excitement got mixed up with a lot of other emotions. There was concern for the life changes and the very real risks involved in having a baby. Ed and Laura gave me no reason to worry about them or the baby, but unfortunately even in the best of situations very difficult situations can arise through pregnancy.

On the night of March of 13th, we got the phone call: Amelia was here and everyone was healthy. There was a wave of relief, a smile that I could not control and a feeling of pure joy. When my grandfather died everything seemed a slightly different color knowing he was no longer in this world. The same thing happened at that moment when I knew that Amelia was out there, but instead of feeling a twinge of heartache, there was a light that seemed to shine on everything I saw.

Diana and I live in Evanston, Il and Ed and Laura live in Seattle, where my parents also live. What occurred for the next three months was a waiting game for Diana and I. The soonest we could get out to see them was June 12th. So we had to simply be satisfied with pictures of our new niece and a facetime chat with the little girl.

While I waited to meet Amelia, I asked my friends what being an uncle or aunt meant to them. I learned that there was a wide variety of involvement. People do everything from seeing their nieces or nephews once a month to sending a birthday card every year. While I had an idea of what my relationship with Amelia would be like I really wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do as an uncle.

Earlier this week we flew to Seattle and I met my niece for the first time. Now I’ve met a lot of babies but there was something different about Amelia. When I saw her for the first time, the pictures I had seen didn’t come close to capturing her beauty. As I picked her up and felt the weight of her body in my arms and she looked up at me, all I could think of what how happy I was to meet her and how much I loved my niece.


It’s weird, I didn’t think about what to say her, things just came out and as she looked to me with her bright eye being an uncle started to make sense. Amelia is part of my family. She’s the best of  Laura and Ed, and because of the things that Ed and I share, part of me is reflected in her.  There's the logical reasons why I feel connected to her, but the emotion that I feel for her that I can't explain is what truly makes her special.

I spoke to my dad about his feelings about being an uncle.  I heard the same excitement in his voice that I felt looking forward to seeing to Amelia, when he described meeting his first nephew.  I don't understand how or why we share these same feelings but I am so glad that we do.  My sense of family is one of the things that I am most proud of, and I didn't realize until that conversations how much of that I got from my dad.   

I don’t know how often I will see Amelia, or what kind of presents I will get her, but I know that am proud of Ed and Laura, grateful to share in their joy and feel blessed to have such a wonderful niece, Amelia in my life.

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