My nephew is trying out for swim team. Today we practiced our strokes in the pool- I’m not sure who is more excited…..I think I could love being a Swim Aunt.

As we walked towards the locker room, I looked at the signs, Men, Women, Family Dressing Area. “Are you okay to shower and change in the Men’s locker room?”

He rolled his eyes at me, “Hehe, I’m almost ten.”

Sigh….yes, yes you are almost ten.

I did shower and change super-fast so I was out before he was, and I may have stood too close by the Men’s Locker Room door while I waited for him. Hello Crazy Aunt.  

And while ten is shocking and I’m not quite sure how these years past so quickly, I’m okay with ten. I can look at this young person and think, “I can deal with ten. I’m not okay with you going into the locker room alone. But okay, ten.

It’s May and my social media is peppered with beautiful young adults. Adults I knew as babies. Adults who are now going to prom, graduating, getting scholarships, making the world a better place. Your children have grown and I’m not quite sure how that happened.

These photos are so bittersweet.

This clearly was not the path chosen for us. I don’t look at these amazing moments and think that could have been our Littles. But since so many of us were having babies at the same time I do marvel at how 16, 17, 18 years have past before me and how you have created, watered, fed and grown a beautiful (almost) independent person in this time.

Grief is a thief of time. Not just the time that could have been but in the time after. It takes time to just survive, time to rethink, recalibrate a new normal, time to watch that new normal crumble and rebuild again. It takes time to do the work and, in that time, you, my friend, have built a person.

When my grief was young, it needed constant attention. Like a young child, it demanded to be fed, held and coddled. I am happy to report I can now leave my Grief at home for a weekend and it will not destroy the house.

It’s a new time for many of us. I am thrilled to see your amazing kiddos go off into the world. I am grateful that as time has passed, I feel more present in this joy.

This weekend, I watched an interaction with my friend and her 16-year-old daughter: beautiful, sassy, testing the air with her new wings. As she ran off, I turned to my friend and said, “your child is my spirit animal.”

And Nephew, I will watch you and your brothers grow. I might even wait ten feet from the Men’s Locker room door.


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