While we were away in Tennessee, my precious niece called in a puddle of tears. My heart broke when I heard her crying, and I feared the worst. Thankfully, she hadn’t lost the baby – which was one of our greatest fears and one of the reasons she was waiting until exactly three months along to announce her pregnancy to the world. Her little heart was hurting, and I wanted to reach through the phone and hug her. Living two hours away is hard enough as it is on a good day, but factor in her heart wrenching tears while we were away on our trip with no way to hurry back to her … it was all I could do to sit there holding the phone that night when what I really wanted to do was hold HER!
I heard her voice cracking as she tried to speak through her sobs. I mustered up all the will I had inside of my body to talk her through this when what I really wanted to do was cry right along with her. Knowing that would make the situation worse for her, I head it together and encouraged her the absolute best I could from all those miles away.
We talked for hours right there in the rental car in the parking garage in Nashville, Tennessee. Nothing mattered at that moment in time except for her and soothing her little heart.
She is full of fears, as you can imagine being so young and with this being her first baby. But it’s even more than that because she’s so afraid she is going to have postpartum depression like her mother (my sister) had. She cried, and my heart longed to hold her in my arms and cradle her head against my chest as I rock her back and forth like I used to do when she was a little girl. But I was handicapped being apart like we were. My voice is the only way I had to reach her and the only tool I could utilize at that moment, so I spoke softly words of love, encouragement, and support into her ear … and she soaked up and hung on every single word.
I told her we’d talk to the doctor again, like we had on the first appointment I accompanied her to, about preventative medicine so she won’t have postpartum depression. I told her we’d monitor her and be right there with her every step of the way, if she’d allow it.
She cried over my sister not being here … “Why did she have to go? Why did she have to leave me? She should be here NOW …” as her tears trailed off … my heart was in a million pieces on the floor board of the white Kia we were in. My words were caught in my throat for a moment as I choked back the tears again.
I felt this 17 years ago, and that night, I felt it as strongly as ever to hear her very own daughter speak the words I’ve said many times since my sister has been gone.
We needed her so much … if only she could have seen that back then.
My niece told me that she would not be able to make it through this without me. “I need you, Aunt Shirley … you’ve always been so encouraging and supportive, I cannot make it through this without you … I can’t …”
Those words gathered up all of the shattered pieces of my heart that were scattered on the floor. Magically, those pieces were mended back together and my heart was in one piece once again as I reassured her, “I am right here, darling, and I will help you through this. I love you. I’m not going any where … I will be there for you every step of the way, as much as you allow me to be. I promise you!”
And my words to her appeared to be like a soothing balm, as she began to grow more calmer. Her tears that were falling like rain began to dry and soon a more perkiness returned in her voice as she began to talk about all the cute baby outfits she has seen. By the end of our conversation, she was noticeably better and you could tell her smile had returned.
My niece needs me. And I will be there!