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Today, missing my nieces hit me out of the blue – like a punch in the gut.  Three days back in Ontario, and I thought I was in the clear.  Oh what I fool I am.

I was waiting in the drive-thru banking line.  Maybe I was tired from my first workout since the holidays.  Maybe I was feeling out-of-routine after only one day back in practice.  Most likely though, I unknowingly let the walls drop.  Yes, the walls:  the ones I put up in my mind and around my heart – the ones that keep me from missing my out-east family to the point of non-functioning.  I know it takes just a little while to re-acclimatize to my Ontario life.  If I stick it out for just a few days I’ll get busy enough and the sting will go away – just like taking off a bandaid.  Maybe the fact that I was excited to get back to my practice yesterday (and enjoyed a very busy day adjusting families I know so well) mistakenly added to the illusion.  But I was wrong: I wasn’t quite in the clear yet.

Here’s the reality:  I have awesomely-cute nieces, and one cuddly newborn nephew.  So I’m going to blame this all on my siblings.  Especially my sister, as we stayed at her house over  the holidays, and got a full-on dose of her girls.  It doesn’t help that my absolute favourite age for kids is that 2-to-4 range.  They are just so damn cute then.

The hardest part is that change happens so fast.  These days, as a long distance aunt, I I am experiencing the same angst I felt as my own two grew through those adorable (albeit BUSY) days.  It’s like they do something new, adorable or funny every time you turn your head  – and the changes we see when our visits are 6 months apart are simply impossible to ignore.  (I try to focus on being grateful for being able to see them several times a year, but sometimes a thought about what we might be missing sneaks in and gives me that punched-in-the-gut feeling)

Sammy, almost 2, is quite likely the happiest, most engaging toddler I have ever met.  With her little blonde pigtails, her raspy little voice, and the perfected head-tilted,nose-crinkling grin – she is the clear master of her little world.   Her sturdy little legs carried her successfully in pursuit of whatever the bigger kids were doing, stopping periodically to happily climb up on any lap available, cuddle her little self in, all with a book in hand.  How could anyone refuse?

Josie, almost 4, was the perfect playmate for Audra.  They slept in the same room, took bubble baths together, and often traveled hand-in-hand from one activity to the next.  Despite the 3+year age gap, she kept up wonderfully, often with excited cries of “Hey guys!” as she shared her ideas with her cousins (in contrast to our April trip, when the same cries were for them to slow down and wait up) With her head of curly blonde ringlettes and an ear-to-ear, squinty-eyed grin – again, how could we say no when she’d ask “Auntie Amy, will you read me a book?”  (Although my favourite was watching her cuddle into Ethan or Audra as they read to her on her bed for bedtime)  On our last night there, I made up a song for her, with the ultimate reward of her singing one back to me – with the words of “I love my Amy and Dean, and Ethan and Audra”.  Oh, Josie, how we LOVE you back!!

I can’t let myself think about all of the moments we miss in the months between visits.  I’m not any good to anyone as a blubbering mess.  And that’s all I’ll say about that. (In other words, my walls are going back up)

I wish that there was indeed a tele-porter invented.  In fact, on our drive home, Audra announced with certainty that she was asking for one for next Christmas.  When asked how it would work she answered: “I’d press a button and in a flash I’d be anywhere I wanted to be”  “And where would you like to go?” I asked. “Halifax.” she answered definitively.  A short pause… “And Hawaii.”

Yup, I agree.  Someone get on it, would ya?! (I’m not sure how long these walls will hold)

And for a smile, here’s just a little dose of what I’m talking about.