Uncle Jim… It’s been more than a few years since I’ve heard those words uttered from a nephew or niece of mine. In the old days there would be phone calls. I’ve gotten some cards and some text messages along the way and for that I am truly grateful. But I look forward to hearing those words again live and in person.
See I was an only child and when I married for the first time in 1990 I was lucky enough to marry a woman who had a sister. It was the first time I had any affiliation with a sibling of any kind. That sister in law of mine went on to have two amazing and children who I was very close to for many years – one boy who is now in his mid teens and a girl who is a couple of years younger. I’ve also had a few honorary uncleships. One is the 22 year old son of my longest running friendship on earth. Another is the one year old son of my wife Christiana’s longest running friendship.
For the first few years after my divorce I stayed in pretty close contact with my niece and nephew from my first marriage. And then time happens. I forget to send a card for somebodies birthday once or maybe twice. Kids get involved in sports and other activities and gather more friends and the connection starts to lessen in the moment. It doesn’t make the history any less real. It doesn’t make the joy that was experienced in the past any less beautiful. It doesn’t lessen the amount of love you have for those young human gifts from your past. It’s just a reminder of how life is so fluid and so organic and how you have to live and sometimes you have to let go.
Now I’m not saying I’m letting go completely because I truly feel that a future chapter will bring a time where it is easier and more possible to have a closer connection once again with those nieces and nephews from my past. Maybe when they get into early adulthood. Maybe when they have kids of their own. That is an unknown that I will just have to accept and let the Universe decide what will happen.
There is something I do know right now though. When I married Christiana last year I gained two amazing new sister in laws. One of them just got engaged last month and the other just had her first child!
When I held three-hour old Joshua David in my arms for the first time he was the youngest human being I had ever held in my life. I’m a much different person than I was even just a few years ago. See in the past I would have figured out a way to excuse myself from having to hold a young infant. It had nothing to do with my lack of love for children and it had everything to do with my own personal insecurities and fears.
Like I said things are different now. So on Sunday morning for about five minutes I happily seized the opportunity to cradle my newborn nephew in my arms. As I looked at his precious face I realized that in a couple of years I’d once again be hearing those words Uncle Jim… and my heart both melted and grew bigger at the same time.
How lucky am I?