My one and only brother is three years old than me. He got married a couple of days shy of 25. Two years later, my niece was born. When she was born, I was only 24. I totally adored this child. She had the chubbiest cheeks and the darkest full head of hair. I used to go to my brother’s house for dinner every week so that I could spend time with this little girl. At about two, she really disliked me for some reason. When I walked through the door, she would push me away and say “No!!!”. I was so heartbroken but couldn’t do anything to change that. This phase lasted at least a few months. The funny thing is whenever I mention about it now she would apologize to me for her unfriendliness. I have watched my niece grow up in front of my eyes. Through our day-to-day contact and being there for every graduation, dance recital, and birthday party, I am in awe of the young woman she has become. She is the first born grandchild in our family. I have always wanted a child like her. She is a great student at school. She is gifted in arts and music. You should all see the jewelry, drawings, and paintings that she has made. She built a lamp and nightstand from scratch for her class projects. She is also an amazing friend. She loves life, loves Jesus, gets along well with her one and only sibling, is compassionate towards others, and desires to serve and help many. Her smiles are contagious. She was there with me at the altar as my junior bridesmaid on one of the most important days of my life. My beautiful niece’s 18th birthday is a bittersweet event for me. I am proud of the person she has become, but I am also sad about something that may sound silly. My niece is an amazing (and responsible) babysitter. I have all along been wishing to “exploit” her to babysit for us for free, at least in time before she starts college. As the years go by and I still haven’t successfully conceived a child, I know that the chances of her babysitting for us are getting slimmer and slimmer. And I have grown progressively sadder because of this fact. My niece has in fact started her classes for college this summer. She is only a couple of hours away for college but it seems almost impossible for her to get to know my future child(ren) like the way she knows her little cousins because of all the time they have spent together. My child(ren) will not know their oldest cousin the way I would want them to if they had been born a few years earlier and growing up in the same town together. If we are blessed with a baby next year, my niece will be a almost 19 years older than my child. I know that there is still a chance for my niece and my child(ren) to know one another, but her 18th birthday somehow is a huge reminder of what we are missing out. I just can’t believe my niece is already 18… As we celebrate a new chapter in her life, I hope that somehow in the future my children will get to know their fun-loving, cool, and joyful oldest cousin in a way that I have never imagined before. Knowing my niece’s character, she’ll love our children regardless of how big the age difference is between them. I know I can take comfort in that.