*Disclaimer* This one's going to be a novel.
As the days pass I can't help but think of where I'll be in the next 10 days: Texas!! Not only am I thrilled because in the last 9 years I've only spent Christmas with my family three times (that's so depressing and I didn't even realize that until right now), but as of June this year I have a sweet baby nephew that makes me recognize that I need to try and come home as often as possible, especially during the holidays. I say "try" because traveling costs not only depend on our financial situation, but our school schedules. Similarly, being in the military the previous 8 years came at the cost of missing those sacred family moments that took place during my absence.
Today I thought of you, Nathaniel. I have only met you once, a month after you were born, and for about two weeks I got to hold you every single day. I can't believe how much you've grown in the last 5 months.
Here's some background information about your Auntie Roni that you don't get to see as often as the rest of our family:
When I first left home so many years ago, it was terribly hard for me. I was a teenager who'd thrown myself into this new world of responsibility, bills, uniforms and combat boots - all at a distance from the family that we both share now. For the first year I'd cry each time when I'd visit Texas and have to say goodbye after a few days, always leaving with a painful lump in my throat. I'd cry when I talked to my mom (your grandma) on the phone and she'd tell me about how the entire family got together at grandpa's house again, just because, and the whole house was filled with laughter, but it broke her heart when she couldn't hear mine anymore; or the times she swore she could hear me laughing amidst all the other children in our family, but knew it was just her memories playing tricks because she missed me so much. Those were the hardest parts of being away, and they still are when my mommy and I talk about the distance every now and then.
By the second or third year of being on my own, all the way to now, I've been pretty numb to the old pain of being far from home, and I've gotten used to the reality that I -unfortunately- have a long distance relationship with my family. I guess because after a while I wasn't a kid on my own anymore; I became an adult over night (that happens in the military) and realized I wasn't going to perish in the imaginary flames of surviving without my mommy. Somewhere along the way, I grew to love the fact that I was getting to live in different places, and even concluded that I could do the tumble weed thing for the rest of my life if I wanted to.
It was only on the day that my sister told me she was pregnant with you that something inside me actually considered wanting to move back to Texas someday. And when I finally held you in my arms, looking at you, I thought I've got to get back here soon! I never want to be someone who you only knew in small dosages or pictures. I never want to just know you like that either. Your mom, uncle and I all grew up in a tight-knit family, seeing our own aunts, uncles and cousins every weekend and almost every day during the summers. I want you and I to be close like that. And if it can't be as often as that, I want it to be more than what it has to be right now. Because now that you're here, I feel the lump in my throat each time my sister sends me daily videos and pictures of you doing simple, but monumental things in your baby life: like sitting up against the cushions of a couch all by your big boy self, eating bananas, learning how to move your tongue in so many different directions, smiling, and laughing...your laugh is my favorite thing in the world to hear these days. I watch those videos more than anything and wish I was there in real life to witness all these things you're learning to do. I want to be there to high-five your chunky baby hand. :)
So no matter how long it takes for us to see each other between visits, and no matter how long it takes until we're living close to you in Texas (hopefully Austin), I want you to know that you're my little bunny and I love you with every part of me! My eyes can't stop watering up and burning right now, and my throat hurts so bad as I type this. :,) For now, your auntie and unckie have to finish up college so we can get good jobs and buy you all the coolest clothes and toys!
We love you Nathaniel Dean. <3
Here's a video of Nathaniel laughing. I love how he goes from "hahaha" to serious face and then back to "hahaha" in a second. This melts my heart.
Thanks for reading.