When I hold my niece’s small, warm body, I forget my worries. I am fortuitous to have her. Not only has Maddie provided much joy to the family, she has proven to me that love exists and thrives in a sometimes brutal world.
When I heard that I would receive a niece, I was delighted. I had always yearned for a younger sibling, so a baby in the family would suffice. I fathomed that there would be responsibilities, but I assumed that her parents would care for her.
As a child of only months, she loved being read to and keeping company with the family. However, after her first birthday, things became as complicated as a labyrinth. Her father made a life-changing decision: he opted to desert the family. He abandoned us during a week that seemed to span ages.
His selfish actions hit us like a whirling tornado. It was especially devastating that he left a precious, confused child in his wake. For months, she paced to where he once slept; she would shout his name once at his pillow. She dashed to the door around the time that he should return from work and wait for a man who wouldn’t appear. When I would absentmindedly mention my own father, she would become eager and believe that her own dad was, at last, returning. We patiently explained to her many times that she would get to see her father again in time. It shattered our hearts to see her face crumple when the message finally set in.
Once, I was babysitting Maddie while she napped. I heard gentle babbling from her crib. Upon arrival, I saw her playing with the doll I had painstakingly sewn for her. When she noticed me, her sleepy eyes brightened. She reached toward me. I smiled and gently lifted her onto me. She rested her head against my shoulder. I lowered my head and kissed her wavy brown hair. She pulled her head up, looked at me, and softly cooed, “Lud you.” I was touched at the sympathetic profession of love. She knew exactly what I desperately needed. I whispered that I had never loved anyone more. I carried her to her chair and read Guess How Much I Love You to her. We cuddled as she listened intently to every word I uttered.
It suddenly struck me that through all the premature grief that Maddie was suffering from, she still let her positive side shine through to support the people she loved. Her compassionate side developed early with her intelligence. At a young age, she came to understand that adversity is no match for amity.
Through a girl of nineteen months, I have come to believe that love is the natural tendency of humans. Whether the individual decides to embrace or reject the morals ingrained in them is their decision. However, I know that in order to stay loyal to the niece that I adore, love is the only way.
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