Monday, May 29, 2017

The Love of an 11 Year Old

I'm sitting here tonight at a near loss for words. Eleven years ago today my niece Addison was born. I was excited to have my first niece...and not so secretly glad she missed my own birthday by a day. I had been sharing with her brother already, even though his birthday is 5 months after mine. To his Nana it would be my birthday but Braeson's 7 month birthday, so I got to share. You can imagine when Addi came along shortly thereafter, I hoped with all my might it wouldn't be the exact day. I figured my mom wouldn't even know I existed by then let alone bake me a cake.

Yet for 10 years I have shared a celebration with Addi anyway, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Since I moved to Texas nearly 5 years ago, Cash and I have gone to Arkansas every single year on Memorial Day weekend to celebrate our birthdays. Except this year. AnnLouise has checkups in Houston this week, so it just seemed daunting to travel that much.

To add to the non-celebration, Addi only asked for money this year. I kept begging her to let me get her something else, but she insisted on money because she "wanted souvenirs at the beach." I couldn't believe she had already gotten to the age where all she wanted was money. I kept wondering when did she get that old?

My mom hosted dinner for Addi tonight and had told me they really wanted to Skype with the kids if possible. So I called when we got a chance.

As we started talking and I "sang" Happy Birthday to Addi, she told us she may have lied a little bit about why she wanted money for her birthday. Okay, I thought, she wanted a computer or something. But instead of a computer or sewing machine or iPad, she told us she was taking all $418 she got for her birthday...

And donating it to prune belly syndrome research.

Just typing that my tears are uncontrollable. I could barely use words to finish our conversation.

Over the past few months I've been consumed with so many things that either were centered around how I was handling AL's diagnosis or frustration just on things out of our control. Yet here was my niece who was crushed when she learned AL wouldn't make it, who prayed for her so hard, who had crocheted a hat for AL before she was born, who drove to Texas just to hold the little miracle..and now she had spent these past few months preparing to donate her birthday money on AL's behalf.

In that moment I learned a lot about love. And maturity.

I also realized it wasn't just AL or me or Cash or Henry who was affected by her story. It had hurt Addison too. It had broken her heart and shown her a miracle all at the same time. While I felt all alone many days as I sat in a puddle of tears, 600 miles away was a little girl who hurt just as bad. The difference in her and I was that she stood up and did something about it.

Addison, I love you. Thank you for being someone I can look up to.

Addi and AL

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