At some point in all our lives, we have fallen in love with a total stranger — someone we don’t even know the name of. We fall in love with the idea of them. We think of what they are like: their life story, their flaws, their traits, how they could possibly fit into our own lives. Maybe you fall in love with your future children; maybe it’s a significant other you haven’t even encountered yet. Perhaps you aren’t in love with a person but a life you wish to one day have. Love is a strange thing. It’s like it has a conscious mind. It just happens. Love has a will of its own. Its own intentions. Most of us don’t intend to fall in love with the people we love or the lives we have, but it feels like love chooses for us.
I will never forget the day I fell head over heels in love with someone I have never met, someone who isn’t even born yet. How can I possibly love someone who I don’t even know? I don’t know this person’s dreams or ambitions. I don’t know the personal qualities they will have. What if they have the most annoying habits ever? What if we just have clashing personalities? What if we’re just into completely different things? Maybe we will be two completely different people, but I know I will forever love this person. This person inspires me already. This person gives me hope for this world and for the future. This person makes me happy beyond belief. This certain someone fulfilled a dream of mine that I’ve always had: the dream to one day become an aunt.
The day I found out I was going to be an aunt, I was thrilled! I’ve never smiled and laughed as much as I did that day. I’d always dreamed of being an aunt, to be someone my niece or nephew could look up to, someone they could talk to and look to for advice. I could be that someone they come crying to when they want to run away from home or when they experience their first heartbreak. In that moment I set a high standard for myself. I am going to be the person who is always going to be there for that baby — through midnight diaper changes and evening feedings. I am going to do my best to make sure that baby always feels loved and protected.
When I found out I was having a niece, I was ecstatic! I began picturing all the cute outfits I could buy her, all the things I could do with her. I began to dream of a life she was a part of. I sit and daydream about the moment I will have to rush to the hospital to be a part of the moment when she enters this world. I think of what it will feel like to hold her for the first time, to be able to look into her big eyes and see her innocence and beauty. As I recently learned, this dream is not going to happen the way I had ever imagined it to. The thing about loving someone you don’t know is that you picture this person being perfect, larger than life. You think loving them will come with no hardships or tears — that everything will be sunshine and rainbows — but that isn’t how things turn out to be.
In finding out I was going to be an aunt, I never once assumed this baby would be anything but happy and healthy, that the pregnancy would be just like any other. I found out my baby niece has Gastroschisis, which means her intestines are growing outside of her abdomen due to a hole that was not fully closed. I was immediately overwhelmed with sadness and doubt. Negative thoughts were swirling in my head. What if something happens to this baby who I love so much? How can I go on knowing that one day something bad might happen to her? But when I first heard her name, I knew she would be okay. Emelyn. Emelyn means to be made whole, laborious, eager, and peaceful home. The way some people look at it, she is eagerly working toward becoming whole and coming to a peaceful home. I knew from the first ultrasound I witnessed that I had nothing to worry about. Emelyn has been growing and getting stronger. She is living up to her name. I knew from all the love and support from everyone that she would be okay. I knew from the amazing parents she has that she is going to be happy and so very happy to have the most loving and caring parents.
I don’t know Emelyn yet, but I know that no matter how much she differs from me, or if she becomes an all-star athlete, a famous cellist, or a writer like me, I will love her with all of my heart. I feel as if she is being made whole by all of the people who love her who have never met her. I want her to learn as much from me as she can, but I also know that I can learn a few lessons from the little fighter herself.