Dear Iana Sue,
A year ago today I was carving pumpkins with friends, telling them about my pregnant sister and how late you were in arriving. Finally I got the call that you were here, and I nearly broke my neck and the pumpkin in my haste to meet you.
You were perfect. Scrawny and long with your extra days of growing, from the moment I saw you I knew you were different from your big sister. I stood there almost crying as the nurse washed you, biting my lip raw trying not to tell the nurse to be more gentle. She said she was a professional, but clearly she was doing it wrong!
I had a busy weekend ahead of me, but I still tried to visit everyday. Everyone I met heard and saw pictures of your arrival.
Ever since we brought you home, you’ve been a snuggler. It didn’t matter if you were fed, dry and warm, if you weren’t being touched – the world as you knew it was ending. While your sister just wanted us to listen, you wanted us to hold you. While your sister wanted to figure out a way to change the situation before her, you wanted to touch it, feel it, smell it. I have always thought that meant you will be the kindest listener, the gentlest friend. You exude a loving sweetness I never thought possible in an infant, Iana. And you adore your family. Don’t ever outgrow those traits.
I have missed you learning to crawl, stand up, grow teeth and hair, and your first birthday. I will also miss your first words, walking and probably your first sentence. When I come home, I will not be your aunt – but a stranger. Don’t think for a moment that each one of those “misses” hasn’t weighed heavily on my heart and mind. Missing them for you was part of the reason I debated so long before coming to Thailand.
This I do know, Miss Iana Sue: Nothing I experience in life abroad will make me being your aunt less meaningful. I am following my dreams in a way I hope you can, too. However, if I did not have a family back home – your family – to share this life with, my a adventures would not be enough. Loving Christ and others is what gives life meaning. So when you hear about your aunt who didn’t make it to your birthday because she was in SE Asia, don’t think for a moment that she forgot about you.
I wish I could be there, but I know you are just fine without me. You have almost a dozen other aunts and uncles to love you, parents who won’t let you stray and a sister who screams of pride in you. Did you know that after you were born, she spent the next 3 weeks introducing everyone to you? Repeatedly. If you weren’t there, she would find your picture and explain how you were HER baby sister.
Don’t forget, Iana Sue, you may have the same pale skin, light hair and blue eyes as your sister – but from the moment I met you, you were different. You have a personality, journey and life all your own. Don’t stand in another’s shadow for a second – you are perfect and loved just as you are.
I love and miss being with you every single day.