Maybe not the most supportive words I can say to my niece, but I'm always just winging it when it comes to talking to them, anyway.
She's a beautiful little girl, tall and thin, all her facial features perfectly petite except for her huge, deep blue eyes. She looks like the epitome of grace, but, like me, she is terribly clumsy. Also like me, when you ask her what happened when you notice a wound or bruise on her, she'll look at it quizzically then shrug. "I don't know."
My dear girlfriend teases me about this all the time. At least once a week she'll say, "Babe, you're bleeding!" I'll look around, confused. Where? She stands with her hands on her hips, rolling her eyes at me. "You're going to kill yourself someday without even knowing it."
So it happened that as my niece grew, clumsily chugging along all the milestones, she eventually started school and one day fell in front of her class. She told me about it sheepishly. "Were you embarrassed, baby girl?" She shrugged but her face flushed a bit. "No. Not really. Well, kind of."
I hugged her and told her I know how she felt. "Yeah, grandma said that you were always really clumsy, too."
I laughed. "I sure am! I always wanted to be graceful but I never have been. And you'll never be graceful, either, baby girl, so just learn to laugh when you fall."
She assures me that she did.
That was a few years ago, and to this day whenever I visit we compare scars, bruises, and cuts. She was especially amused when I showed up with a cast on my leg and literally had no idea how I had broken my foot.
I read many of the comments in New Day with interest and a heavy heart. I am always in awe of the tragedies we live through. The way we get wounded out of nowhere. Sometimes with warning, sometimes without.
I look back at the words I wrote about being insecure about the person that I am. I say I'm the world's best aunt but.... Am I really? Can I live up to the person that they think I am?
After all, the weekend I took my nephew to Pride was a lesson in rule-breaking more than anything else. And the time my other nephew wanted to talk to me about sex and his feelings about a girl, I wouldn't let him take shelter inside away from the storm that was raging outside. I wanted to sit outside and watch the rain pour and lightning strike. He sat there shivering on the patio with me anyway. I probably should have moved the conversation inside.
But this morning I realized maybe the advice I gave to my niece is advice that I should learn to follow.
I have made many mistakes and have been broken many times. I've had dark days and darker nights, I've been wounded more times than I can count, and more often than not it's due to my own actions.
But I've had some really, really great times, too.
Like the time I took my nephew to Pride and he ended up making great friends with the hotel clerk after gf and I passed out. Or the time my other nephew braved the wind and rain just to talk to me about his inner life.
I'll keep fumbling around for as long as I can, knowing I'm going to get hurt once in a while.
I'll never be graceful. But I have laughed a lot.