When my niece Jessica was born she weighed in at about 9lbs. Her mother blames me for this - I used to work at Dunkin Donuts and I was her supplier of blueberry crumb cake donuts. Jess was a chubby little cherub with big cheeks and lots of rolls. But, she was my beautify baby girl. I love all my nieces and nephews but this child always had a special place in my heart. She was always my "favorite". I used to call her Jessie Moo (Moo is Greek for the word "my", and put after the person's name instead of before). As a toddler she lost most of her baby chubbiness but gained a whole lot of attitude. She was so funny with her little "miss thing" tude. She was cute and it worked for her. When she was 4 years old, we lost her father (my brother) in a tragic car accident.
Her mother and I (I'll call her K) have always remained very close friends. Years later K got married to a great guy. I feel very fortunate to have her as my friend, and to have been able to be a big part of Jessica's life as she grew up. Jessica's teen years were rough, she went through that whole Goth phase, she used to have dolls heads hanging in her room and she wore nothing but black. She was a rebellious teen and gave her mother a run for her money, things were not always easy for them.
Jessica is now 23. She is beautiful. She has full lips, almond shaped eyes and a smile that could light up a room. When I look at her I see my brother and it warms my heart. She has grown into a responsible young adult and I'm very proud of the young woman she has become. The troublesome years are far behind her and she has a bright future ahead. I still call her Jessie Moo from time to time. She tries to be serious and says "don't call me that"...but she always smiles when she says it. It's our thing, she pretends she doesn't like it but we both know it's my term of endearment for her.
Last month she decided to get her own apartment. Her mother confided in me that she was a little freaked out about it. She'd miss having her around, she'd worry about her. The house would seem quiet without her. The empty nest syndrome. She knew it was bound to happen eventually, but wasn't prepare for eventually to come so soon. K helped her get her new apartment ready, she went shopping and bought all those little incidentals that one needs when moving into a new place and in a few weeks Jess had moved out.
Ironically they are even closer than they were before. Jess calls her mom every day, she invites her over to dinner or to watch a movie. They go out to breakfast on the weekends. She laughed when she told me "I see her more now than when she lived here". I think Jess is feeling the empty nest syndrome too.
All of this has made me realize once again that time goes by too quickly. In the blink of an eye, your child went from a new born to moving out on their own. The people we love the most can be there one minute and gone the next. It reminds me never to take friends and family for granted. To let the little arguments go, to forgive. To cherish them always. To appreciate them and not to forget to let them know that your world is a better place because they are in it.
I think about that chubby little girl with major attitude who is all grown up now. I'm thankful for her mother who has been a wonderful friend to me, but more importantly a great mother to the child that I couldn't love any more than if she were my own. I know my brother is looking down from heaven and smiling at his baby girl.