Last night, I went over to Dawn’s house for dinner and to pick up the bead necklaces for my healing hand talisman. When I got there, both my nephew, Andrew, and my niece, Lilly, were wearing nothing but diapers. Lilly was climbing up her dad, Joe, like he was a cliff face, and Andrew was over-parmesan-ing his pasta and screaming every time Dawn tried to take the can of cheese away.
“Hi, naked babies!” I exclaimed as I walked in the door.
Dawn called back from the kitchen, “Is it as hot in your house as it is in mine?”
As Dawn finished dinner and Andrew (still in just a diaper) helped Joe take out the trash and recycling, I held the baby – proving once again that I am strong enough to do so. Then we sat down to eat with Curious George playing in the background.
We ate quickly, as moments of calm are few and far between with all the babies in this house. Then Joe took Andrew outside to fingerpaint while Dawn and I finished the necklaces. Lilly sat on the table in her bumbo seat and watched us, throwing her sippy cup of ice water at me repeatedly, just so she could see me pick it up and give it back to her again. (I am nothing if not well-trained.)
By the time Joe and Andrew came back inside, we had two finished necklaces, and they had two finger-painted masterpieces.
“Which one is for Auntie?” Joe asked his son, and Andrew shyly held out one of the paintings.
I left shortly thereafter, not only with a painting, but with new photos of both kids for my wallet and fridge, as well as photos from Lilly’s baptism. I also got, from Andrew, a kiss on the lips, a prompted “I love you,” and the screen door held open for me.
“See, it’s moments like these that I’m glad I had him,” Dawn said through the screen as Andrew stood at her feet and blew me kisses. “But then, wait 20 minutes, and I’ll be wishing I could give him back.”
“Oh, that’s ok,” I said. “I was here 20 minutes ago, so I’ve seen both sides.”
Still, I drove away pretty full of baby-love.
Funerals now, at least most of the ones I’ve attended, are not called funerals. They are called celebrations of life. Instead of standing somberly in the graveyard, we have a party: we share fond memories of the deceased, look at old photos, and eat. At my friend’s mom’s funeral celebration a few years ago, guests were even asked to wear red and turquoise – the deceased’s favorite colors – instead of the traditional black.
Last night was a great opportunity for my own celebration: something to remind me of what I am and what I have, instead of letting me focus on what I am not and what I lack. I may not be a wife or a mother, but I am a sister, a sister-in-law, and an auntie. And, judging by the front of my refrigerator and the sparkly red and purple beads around my neck, those are all pretty stellar things to be.