I became an aunt when I was only 9 years old. I thought this was the most amazingly wonderful thing that ever could possibly happen. I remember holding my niece for the first time – I was so excited, I had to sit on the sofa and be very careful, while my sister put the baby in my arms. I remember looking down at her face, while everyone was taking pictures of this moment, and feeling nothing but love.
I was a baby, meself. A baby in love with a baby. 🙂
We kind of grew up together. A couple years later there was another baby, and then another, and then another. I was an aunt, and I loved it. I loved having nieces and nephews.
As I got older, I loved being the fun aunt, the one the kids loved, the one they shared their secrets with. I bought them presents on their birthdays and at Christmas. I bought them presents whenever I could, even though I didn’t have a ton of money. I made them stuff, I sewed and knit for them – always it was for the kids.

The oldest one liked to tell “stories.” No, she told lies. From the time she could talk, she lied. She didn’t know how to tell the truth. I realized when she was a teenager that there was something not quite right about her, but I told myself I was imagining things. No one wants to believe that someone they love is somehow wrong. And then she went off to college. She was there for a couple of years, stories she told of that experience were often unbelievable, but love won out over common sense and I let it all go without question.

And then she was somehow going to transfer to another college, and then not, and then she was home with her parents, and no one really knew if she was going back to college or what the heck was going on. We saw her in March of that year, 1994. She was wearing overalls, and obviously pregnant. I questioned her, and she told me emphatically that she was NOT pregnant. When she left, with her mother, I turned to my mother and said, “that girl is pregnant.” Mother denied it as well, but she knew.

And a few weeks later, we got a call. She’d had a baby. A girl. As angry as I was at her, the baby won my heart. Another niece, this time a great-niece, the first of many, and always the first in my heart. I loved her from the moment I saw her, so sweet, so innocent, such an angel. I will never forgive myself for not protecting her from the wrongness that was both my sister and her daughter.

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