It started with a call from CJ (my brother in law), letting me know that he and Kenzi we're heading to the hospital to have their baby girl.
Rewind to 9 months earlier, it was another dinner and movie night at our home and Kenzi and CJ walked in, stood in the entrance and announced they were pregnant. When the words came out of their mouths, it was one of the moments in which the finality of Michael not being there to be a part of this chapter of their lives sank in.
Those moments are few and far between, but there are those certain times where it really hits you that the moments where you are supposed to be hand in hand to congratulate your sister on her pregnancy, or see another sister walk down an aisle, or my mom and dad hold their first grandchild, aren't going to happen.
You see, in the 3 years that my baby's been dead, I've come to terms and accepted the reality of us not having our own beautiful children, sharing exciting moments in our lives with family, and growing old together. I guess I wasn't quite prepared or had not even thought about what it would be like when our loved one's started to do those things, and how I would react.
But as they stood in the entrance, waiting for my reply that October evening, I smiled and the first words to exit my heart and then my mouth were, "Congratulations! Wow! All I can say is that Michael would have loved to be here to tell you how much I know it means for him to be an uncle to your child."
I knew that over the duration of her pregnancy, and the duration of Kora's life, I'd be able to physically show them my excitement and joy in being her Aunt, but at that moment, I just wanted them to know what was most important for me to have them understand, and that is the fact that as Michael's soul counterpart, he will be there in everything I do, and in all the moments I have with her, and that is something I had learned that only other widows may truly understand.
But with tears in her eyes, she smiled and said, "I know."
After that understanding and acceptance of what I know to be true, I became their biggest cheerleaders during her pregnancy. Cards for first ultra-sounds and doctor appointments, taking pregnancy photos, creating a stock of ultra cool baby things that Michael and I would have laughed over, and even buying her alcohol-free wine for our dinner nights.
I was liberated by the fact that not only me, but Michael, could celebrate in this special occasion, and they knew, understood, and liked it.
Today I went to the hospital to see the new family, and the first thing they did was open the card I brought. Signed by my family: Michael, Me, Charlie and Maximus.
They set it on display and for the next 3 hours we laughed about how big Michael was when he was born (10.5lbs), talked about who Kora looked like, and for a moment, it was as if Michael was standing behind me as I held Kora, his warm hands placed on my shoulders, looking down on our niece. For a moment, life was as perfect as their baby.
If it hadn't been for Kora, I wouldn't have learned that as some of life's big moments occur sans Michael, that I actually have him there more than ever, and feel like life is as it's supposed to be.
Thank you, Kora.
I promise you that Michael and I will show you the love that we have shown each other, and with that, I know your life will be amazing.
It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us aunts and uncles.