by Julieann Whitney from Windsor, ON
Three years ago this Christmas, I fell in love with my niece Jensen.
She was just 6 months old, and my husband and I were meeting her for the first time in Saskatchewan where my family live.
Christmas eve, my sister handed me Jensen’s warm little body, a bottle and a blanket. She laid there so content and sweet, gazing into my eyes and then faded off to sleep. Now, I know this is an everyday event for many people, but it was my first time, and it was a magical moment.
I was shocked by the impact it had on me as I had come with hidden concern that I wouldn’t warm up to Jensen as I had such a soft spot for her older sister. But, once again, my sister affirmed, the heart just gets bigger with each child and an hour into my time with Jensen-- that was the case.
A year and a half ago, I saw her again. She laughed at everything I did and my love for her grew. From that point on, we have kept up our relationship over the telephone. At least once a week, I put on a telephone headset and do dishes while Jensen tells me stories.
Most of the time, these stories take quite a while to get out, and my ever wise sister always seems to be able to know exactly when and what to translate so that and Jensen is not rushed and my response to her is appropriate. Those are the only nights I enjoy doing dishes.
Finally, this summer, after a long year and a half of absence, I made the pilgrimage to Moosamin Saskatchewan to see my sister and her flock. Jensen had blossomed into a fun loving, friendly, strong little girl who I could not take my eyes off for hours. We spent three glorious days playing on the swings, singing, playing chase in the park, practicing the ABC’s, dancing and reading. It was magical. Exhausting… but magical.
Far too quickly, the day came when I had to leave. I pulled Jensen on my lap, face to face and said, “Jensen, I have had such an amazing time getting to know you. You are such a precious young girl, you are so much fun and so smart and such a good sport and I just think you are amazing.”
She was staring intently at me by then, and suddenly, she put her little arm out and gently nestled her hand under my chin.
I turned to mush inside, she was so sincere, so focused on the moment. She too was feeling the love!! She was silent for a moment as was I while we just looked at each other, and then she said words that will never leave my soul…
But…who are you again…?