Having spent only a couple of weeks in the UK over the last two years, spending quality time with my family has been a real challenge. Of course this has been my own choice as I’ve been determined to pursue my dreams with Sparkle, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t missed making memories with them all.
When my parents welcomed their first grandchild and my brother and I our first niece in September 2016, it was certainly a memorable occasion for us all. You feel an instant love for the little innocent child who has entered the world and suddenly the dimensions of the entire family change overnight.
However unconditional love doesn’t always mean a connection is formed. Although I managed to pay Lilly a few visits when I could, in her eyes I may as well have been a stranger coming in from the streets. She was obviously not going to recognise me or want to play with this random lady that was being referred to as ‘Auntie Sarah’ and that was exactly the case. She screamed when I went near her on several occasions which instantly made me retreat and distract myself in the hope no one else would notice. But why was I taking it so personally? Why did I get upset as I received more and more pictures and videos and messages from my Mum telling me how amazing she was and that she reminded her of me?
Aware that I was feeling isolated, my brother and sister in law attempted several Skype calls where Lilly waved or blew a kiss at me but still I came away feeling more deflated than uplifted as I knew these were simply behaviours trained and performed rather than given through recognition and love.
Only natural I know for an 18 month old but the reality was I didn’t even know my niece and I had no relationship with her whatsoever. I loved her because I knew I was meant to and she was part of the family but not for the little person who she was becoming.
Following the accident last month, the reality hit me that my life was going to have to be put on hold for a while so I could recover. For someone who can’t keep still and always needs to be on the go, it’s my worst nightmare! Going back 10 years to being looked after by my parents and having to move into my brothers house was not where I had seen myself age 27.
The first few days were tough. I was too tired to interact and I was becoming increasingly aware of all the worry I had put people through and I was feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt. But by day four of being back in the UK something changed. And that something was my little niece Lilly who one afternoon reached out her arms to me to ask for a cuddle. It was an amazing feeling and one that has got better and better every single day as I’ve had the opportunity to get to know her.
From playing cups of tea, to now swimming in the pool in Mallorca, to building towers which are knocked over two seconds later, each memory shared is as precious as the next.
Her attempt to say Aunty Sarah pulls at my heart strings every time and when she points at me and asks me to sit here or play, I can’t help but stop everything and do what she says.
Today she started copying my actions and repeating after me and it was then I realised what an amazing feeling it is to be an Auntie.
Every day I am learning something new from her. She is certainly making me feel my age as I’ve realised that babies of today are tech enthusiasts of tomorrow. One of the first words I heard her say was ‘pad’ referring to the iPad which she loves and will be operating better than me before I know it! She is just a joy to be around and I feel so lucky and privileged to have been given this special time with her.
So there’s the irony. Had I not had the accident would I have ever had this opportunity?
Who knows? One thing is for sure when you come that close to death, you realise who and what matters most. Family.
They are there to support you regardless of the situation and are the ones who you can rely on no matter what. Well it is the case for my family and if it’s the only thing I ever teach my niece Lilly, it will be to appreciate, treasure and love the memories made with our family as they are the best blessing God ever gifted me with.