My beloved niece graduated from college. Just like many other high school and college graduates this year, her graduation ceremony had turned virtual. Her parents set up a drive-by celebration for her. She was wearing her cap and gown and a mask in her driveway for an hour in the evening of her graduation day. Her friends and family drove by to congratulate her with social distancing. Bob and I, my kids, and my mom were there too. This was the kids’ first time seeing their cousins and auntie and uncle in person since the shelter-in-place started. They had only been seeing them on Zoom prior to that. I am quite sure the kids knew that something was up because it must have been strange for them to see everyone that they love wearing masks. But they were so good. I prepared them ahead of time that they were going to sit in the car seats for the visit. They sat peacefully and didn’t fuss to get out of the car. The rear windshield of my niece’s car was decorated with her college’s name, her name, and class of 2020. We were able to take a photo with her by having her on one side of the car and us on the other side without our masks on. The kids returned to the car seats after the photo without any issues. We are so proud of my niece! I remember this post that I wrote when she started college. That was when we hadn’t even made the embryos that became our children. I was feeling sad that she was going away for college and it seemed impossible for my future children to know her well. I was feeling like I was missing out on an opportunity for my children, if I were to have any, to know their cousin really well. This is what I said,
“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.”
And now that my kids have been on this earth for 2 years 9 months, I can truly say that my niece loves my children to death, and my children can’t get enough of their oldest cousin. Prior to the shelter-in-place order, my niece would come see the kids every chance she had. She would drive home from school and text me to see if she could come hang out with them. The kids ask for her all the time. After graduation day, I told my brother that they should come visit the kids at the window. (He was afraid a visit without coming into the house would upset the kids.) I guaranteed him that the kids are used to people visiting at the window and won’t get upset if my brother and his family don’t come in. This is exactly what happened. My brother’s whole family came with cupcakes. My brother showed up with windex and a cloth and started cleaning my windows! I was wondering what that was all about, then I realized that my niece and my sister-in-law were armed with window glass markers to draw pictures on the windows for the kids! My niece drew Thomas, Percy, a bridge, trolley, swing, slide, airplane, hedgehog, and many more. The kids had the best time even though they did not get to touch or hug or kiss my family. Now that we know that the kids are okay with having my brother’s family visit just outside of the house, I am sure that my niece will come often to hang out with them. She does love my kids regardless of the big age difference. Infertility and the delay in having my kids didn’t rob me the joy of my kids being close to my niece. Even if she moves far away in the future, I am certain that my kids will continue to be close to her.