last night i watched my beautiful niece play her very last home basketball game for massabesic high school, a playoff game against catherine mccauley in which the lady mustangs kicked absolute butt, and in which my niece, in particular, was...amazing. they will play deering high monday night and, barring a major upset, it will probably be the last time i see her in a mustang uniform. next fall, she'll be off to college...all grown up and ready to change the world. she's become such a remarkable young woman. she is gorgeous on the inside and outside, and i'm so proud of her i think i could burst apart, little pieces of auntie d. floating away into the big sky. gawd she is such a light in my life.
at the end of the game i was overwhelmed with a strange mixture of joy and sadness, of letting in and letting go. it is both beautiful and heartbreaking to see someone you once held in your arms as an infant transform into a young woman right before your eyes, in what feels like an instant. i loved watching her jump and yell and celebrate with her teammates, her smile so big, her eyes excited, so unaware that this was one of life's fleeting moments, here one second, gone the next, this miniscule fraction of time, so big to her in the here and now, and one that she will carry in her mind and heart for the rest of her life. i gave her a giant hug, whispered 'i am so proud of you' and then off she ran, into the arms of friends, disappearing in the huge crowd of exhilirated fans.
watching her run away, it felt like time had changed into some strange slow motion pace, i felt suddenly as if i were in a tunnel, sounds echoing. i could hear her voice as it was when she was so much younger. auntie d. auntie d. i could almost see the little girl that she was, first t-ball game, ball cap so big it covered her ears. snapshots of her life played out in my mind, i thought of a photograph, taken some easter sunday years ago, sam in her fancy little girl dress, holding my hand and posing, smiling. i thought of all the times we sat together, cross-legged on the floor in her play room, surrounded by toys and dolls and games, a little three year old girl looking up at me with her chocolate brown eyes, play me auntie darl? i thought of the million times we would just sit and read, or watch barney, or laugh so hard that she would be overcome with hiccups. i thought of the day we sat on her couch, another photograph of the two of us, me tickling her and her laughter, like music, captured on film just seconds before we left her house to visit her new baby sister in the hospital. and on and on and on. all of this flashed before me in seconds, a beautiful movie of every moment i've ever spent with her, moments that she will barely remember if she remembers them at all, but moments that for me are as alive and as vivid as if they happened only yesterday. and more precious, more cherished, than anything, EVER, in my world.
before she and her sister were born, i never knew that i could love this big. i never knew the heart was capable of holding that. much. love. and then still be able to love some more. they are my sister's children, and so my mother's blood, my father's blood, my blood, runs through them. they are my family's legacy, they carry inside of them our hopes, our dreams. they bring us infinite joy. they learned how to love from us, and my god, they love so well, so very, very well.
they are the heirs of our hearts.