by Ally Girling
Becoming an aunt for the first time is a feeling I will never forget. It was beautiful, messy at times, and overall life-altering.
To feel the love and bond to a child that is not yours is an unexplainable feeling that I will cherish forever.
But what do you do when the baby girl who made you an aunt passes away?
That is something I had to navigate through myself and will forever be changed by.
I have felt the grief, the overwhelming sadness, the sharing of memories – but there will always be a hole.
Is it selfish to grieve a loss that was not wholly mine? Will people ever take my loss from my perspective seriously?
I was there through it all. I watched her grow until her last day.
So why do I feel guilty that I am still grieving… still hurting?
We celebrate her life with every chance we get. Her first and second heavenly birthdays, Christmases, Easter.
She will never be forgotten, but I don’t think I will ever forget how to not feel through it all.
And I don’t want to. I want to be there still, for the steps we are taking without the two tiny feet that should be alongside us.
I want to look my sadness in the eyes and be okay with it walking beside me forever. I want to love the brother that came after her with the same love I shared for her.
I am still her aunt, and she is still my niece.
I am grieving a loss that was not entirely mine, and two years later, I can say that that is okay.
I am allowed to feel, as that makes me human.
I am allowed to cry, as that shows just how much I cared.
I am allowed to label this loss as a part of me because she is.
And because of that, I will always be an aunt – her aunt.