"Write a blog thanking someone who has made your heart come alive."
The first person to really make my heart come alive was my niece, Emma.
You were expecting a mushy husband post, weren't you? I figure everyone who follows this blog even casually knows that I have the most amazing husband in the world... but the first time I knew selfless, die for you kind of love was when I met the prettiest little girl in the world.
Dear Princess Emma,
I was fifteen when your mommy was pregnant. I remember all of the fun of shopping for you (including Poppy's attempt to help you "try out" mattresses in the store by holding them up to your mommy's belly!), and talking about baby names (on the white board in Gram and Poppy's basement... Grammie pushed for Frankie for a girl... aren't you glad your mom picked Emma?).
You were born on Palm Sunday. Gram went into surgery with your mom, and got to put your very first diaper on you, and even carried you into the nursery. Because I was a candystriper, and one of the doctors hanging out was our neighbor, I got to slip into the nursery, too. I was overjoyed and overwhelmed when I got to hold your teensy tiny hand when you were only a few minutes old. And I fell head over heels in love with you.
You and your mom stayed at our house for a few weeks when you were brand new, and you were a noisy little thing! You were actually a really good baby, but even a good baby makes a LOT of noise! We also got to babysit when your mom worked, so I changed bunches and bunches of STINKY diapers, fed you lots of formula, and played with--er, I mean helped YOU play with--your toys.
You didn't like me very much when you were a year old, until you were about three. Your first phrase was "No, Katie, stop it!" I was singing in the car, and you weren't happy about it :-( I had a really hard time getting you to call me Aunt, which was kind of a bummer, because Aunt Katie was my favorite "me" to be. I was sooo proud of you (still am!) and loved to talk about you to my friends at school. I was convinced (still am!) that you were the smartest, cutest baby ever born.
Things that used to be pretty sad gained new meaning for me, now that I had a little person who had my heart. Do you remember when I called your mom after class sometimes and asked to talk to you? I was in a class that talked about some of the bad things that happen to little kids, and they made me so heartbroken and angry. I needed to talk to my sweet princess. It's hard to explain exactly what those phone calls meant to me; I just knew I needed to talk to you and it always made me feel a little bit better.
You read me a book over the phone while I drove home from class one night. I cried. You were the flower girl in my wedding. You give the best hugs and kisses, and have the best giggle in the world. I don't like to see you cry, but I do like that I can usually snuggle the crying away. We play with tickle buggies, and that one mean old tickle goose that poked you in the belly when we were trying to feed him. You always hold my hand when we pray in a circle, and I always squeeze your hand 3 times for "I Love You." You squeeze back 4 times, "I Love You, Too." When I taught you about communion at church on Christmas Eve, I was so proud of how you understood. When you explained it to your cousin in front of the nativity scene the next night, my heart almost exploded with joy, pride, and thankfulness.
You are the coolest, Miss Emma. Being your aunt is one of the most important things to me (right up there with being Uncle Ethan's wife), and has given me more hope, joy, fulfillment, and love than I knew was possible before you were born.