Growing up as an only child, I was never really bothered by the fact I had no siblings. Partly, I suppose, because I have a cousin who more or less or functioned as a little brother, but also because I enjoyed being the center of my parent’s lives. However, if I could have put in an order for siblings, I would’ve wanted a twin sister (so that we could play jokes) or a big brother, and those weren’t things that could’ve happened after the fact, so… I just didn’t really worry about it. The only thing I was really bummed about was that I’d miss out on was being an aunt. I must admit, I did feel some envy when my friends were having nieces and nephews of their own.
Luckily, my life long sentence without possibility of aunthood came to an end when I married my husband… And, the day we wed, I not only got a husband and in-laws, but also a sister and her two sons and her daughter. I could not have been more excited. I honestly never believed I’d be called Aunt Mindy. (Or, Aunt Windy for that matter.) In fact, on that particular day, Ms. Erin even stood in our wedding and helped us celebrate our holy union.
Interestingly, I met my niece the day she was born. That was also the day that I met her mother, and my future sister in law. Ryan and I were a very new couple, and we spent the day with his nephew Matthew while Heather was busy bringing Erin into the world. (Come to think of it… that was the first day I met Matthew also. Can’t wait to blog about him also. UPDATE:http://sunmoonbrothers.blogspot.com/2010/08/matthew-g-goodboy.html ) When we got word we were welcomed, we took Matthew up to the hospital to meet Heather and Erin. When we got there, Ryan casually held his niece, who shared his name within her own. Once he had looked her over and enjoyed her, he thought nothing of handing her to me. But, I was terrified. She was SO small! She seemed sooooo fragile! And, I couldn’t help but wonder where in the heck she got all that hair from already! (Turns out that Ms. Erin has always been able to amaze us with her beautiful hair!) Erin was the first baby I really remember holding in my arms. She smelled good. She was calm, as though she knew I couldn’t have handled an upset child. She was very soft. And, although I was pretty rigid and terrified to breathe or move (or do anything) to disturb her until Ryan took her back, I was pretty smitten with her from the moment I met her. I secretly couldn’t wait to visit Ryan’s family again to get a chance at practicing holding her.
As time went on, I got to know Erin Ryann better and better. Here are the things I’ve learned about my one and only niece: She has two brothers and two boy cousins… so she is the very much needed splash of dainty and pink in a sea of blue. She is a very good big sister, helping, comforting and teasing her little brother as often as she can. She is a very typical little sister, following her big brother around and learning from him often, but being sure to remind him that he does have a little sister in his way. She is an excellent cousin. Both of my boys enjoy playing with Erin, mostly because she is just very kind. You’ll rarely find Erin teasing you, unless she is actually trying to have fun with you, but certainly never at your expense. She doesn’t get upset often and forgives easily when she does. She is dainty, careful and proper as a lady should be, and yet, she is rough, tough and tumbly when she needs to keep up with all the boys. She is playful. She is graceful. She is a Highland dancer, and through her dancing we’ve learned she’s a perfectionist also. She’s competitive, though she seems more driven to compete with herself and her own perfection than with the girls around her. She may well be the best cuddler in the whole wide world. She is very smart. She is strong, stronger than I think you or I could imagine. In her short life she has suffered broken hearts and broken bones, and still she can dance circles around you or I. She knows the difference between right and wrong and she will stand up and assert herself when she knows it is the right thing to do. She is beautiful. She is an absolute angel, and I love her very much.
When I sat down to write this blog today, I very much intended to leave a story of Erin to honor her birthday, and to allow for my boys to one day know what I’ve learned about their cousin. But really, what I discovered as I continued writing, was that I have left them with a story of lessons she has taught me, over the years. Ms. Erin Ryann has been a lesson in strength, love and beauty from the day she was born, and I think we could all take something from her teachings into our own heart.
Happy Birthday Erin! We love you SO MUCH! And we miss you always!