When uncles interact with their nieces

In the couple of weeks we spent in Melbourne that overlapped with Chris’s brother Ben being in town, it was really sweet to see him interact with Kaia. After some initial drama in scheduling immediate family events, Ben actually cleared his calendar mostly to maximize time with her. I’m sure he also felt guilty that he had missed her first birthday party, so he probably did this to make up for that, in some way. He helped feed her a couple of times and played and read to her. I loved watching them together. Initially, as with anyone else, she took some time warming up to him, but finally when she did, it was as though no time had passed. I enjoyed watching them play peek-a-boo and make faces together. Listening to her sweet, high pitched giggle at things he’d do to entertain her, like jump up and down and do squats, made me feel really happy.

It’s hard to observe these interactions and not wonder what it could have been like to watch Ed interact with Kaia. While Ed was awkward around adults, he really loved babies and young children. He was really kind and warm when interacting with young children. Who knows — in another life, maybe he could have been an early childhood educator or worked at a toddler educational center or something related. When colleagues and church acquaintances had kids, he’d always give them little gifts and candy. And knowing how much he inundated me with gifts, I know he would have spared little expense to spoil Kaia thoroughly, whether it was with the latest and coolest age-appropriate toy or the most fashionable clothes. Ed always had really good taste in clothing, and he always thought a lot about gifts before he purchased and gifted them.

I don’t know when Kaia will finally understand people who have died and the fact that life will always end in death. But I try to occasionally share anecdotes about her Uncle Ed to her, and eventually, I’ll show her photos of Ed and try to have her “know” him as much as she can. Every now and then when I look at her face, I see Ed in her, and I hope that wherever he is, he is finally at peace with himself and the world. I still miss him and think about him every day, and with Kaia Pookie in my physical life now and him not anymore, sometimes my heart really aches, wishing what could have been.

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