A letter to my niece

Dear Holly,

Sixteen years ago today, you came into this world.

We were standing at MacIsaac (no, not us) Funeral Home at your grandfather’s wake when your dad called with the news.

“It’s a girl!”

It would be another couple of months before we met face to face. You were a bundled blanket of balled-up fists and furrowed brow and you cried when the strangers — me and my then boyfriend — spent the night in your apartment.

We were travellers, embarking upon my journey out west. Indeed, it’s a year of 16th anniversaries. Yesterday, the day of my dad’s passing and in March, the day I left Eastern Canada for my life in the west.

I’ve missed out on a lot of your own journey over the last 16 years and I wish I could have been closer. At times, I’ve considered being closer but I hope everyone understands why that’s just not possible.

We met again five years later at your uncle’s wedding. You were a vivacious, precocious little girl and your personality brought smiles to everyone’s faces.

Do you remember how hilarious you found it to flex your muscles in front of Shane’s Firebird and see the distortion of your body in the sleek black curves?

Do you remember when we taught you how Ross Gellar had his own signal for flipping off his sister Monica? You gave my mother heart palpitations when you started doing it to people at the wedding reception.

And the rest of us laughed.

I cherish every moment of the time I spent with you (and your sister … hi, Emily)  in 2008 when I was home for my high school reunion. It reminds me that I have to promise to come home again soon.

Every moment with you lets me know you’re destined to be great. You will carve your own path and be a leader among your peers. You will command presence and attention and you will brighten every room with that dazzling smile.

Just as the news of your birth brightened a room 16 years ago. Your new presence in the world was a shining star on a dark January night.

And as you mark your journey into your womanhood, I know your star will bring a lot of light to a lot of people.

Happy sweet sixteen, kidyoung woman. And I love you … even if you are slightly embarrassed by this. Because you’re 16. And that’s what 16-year-olds do.

Oh … and if you ever need to know what your grandfather looked like, just look at your dad. It’s kind of creepy.


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