last night, as i was laying on my couch (contorted in awkward positions only comfortable to me), i wasn't really paying attention to the tv playing in the background. one of my favorite shows, rookie blue, was on. as our thursday ritual, my best friend andrea and i were watching it "separately/together." we try to watch it together, with wine, but this week she was traveling home from her anniversary vacation.
as i lay there, i realized she and i both weren't paying attention. we were texting back and forth pictures of her daughter, ava. you see, today is ava's first birthday, and we couldn't believe how much she'd grown.
ava may not be my niece by bloodlines; andrea and her husband aaron are both only children so ava will never have any aunts or uncles. it's occurred to me over this past year, and the months before, that your family isn't just blood, it's also those that you weave into it. andrea has been a sister to me, and i love ava as though she is my niece. i also fully intend to spoil her as such.
i remember laying in bed, wide awake, august 8th of last year. dre's mother and i both couldn't sleep and were texting one another throughout the night as we prayed for andrea to have a simple labor. i woke up in the morning, before my alarm had gone off at 6:30, and had this sense of calm. i "knew" she was almost here, and i teared up. minutes later, right before 7:00, jas text me that she'd arrived.
now, i'm not an emotional person. i have a very simple (and slightly neurotic) list of things that will make me cry. of these (notre dame football, the olympics, and politics) none are your typical girly triggers. when i received that first picture of this precious little baby, waterworks.
she was beautiful.
she is beautiful.
it was all i could do to get through work that thursday and go meet avelyn michaela. when i did, she smelled like baby, had the most precious little pout, and was perfect. seeing dre with her daughter for the first time was one of the most amazing things; she was instantly a mama, and the love she and aaron immediately had for ava was apparent.
flash forward to today, i cannot believe this sweet girl is already a year old. she is one of the sweetest, most sensitive babies i've ever met. she is constantly smiling and laughing (especially at my face, i guess i do that for her) and has the most wonderful attitude. i think i've heard her cry three times in a year...and one of those was when she rolled off the couch because her auntie was a dumb. she has made aaron and andrea the happiest parents, and i love watching my best friend mother her daughter.
i still have the parking lot voucher from the hospital in my car from the day i first met her. apparently i'm rather sentimental. whenever i reach to get my sunglasses and feel it there, i smile a little. ava is a wonderful reminder of a great friendship, and she is loved so much. i hope that, though we may not be blood, that i can play the auntie role for her as though we were. i will be there to take her pictures throughout her lifetime, give her sweets when her mama isn't looking, and listen to her as she grows when she doesn't want to go to her parents with awkward questions.
and i will always have gum.
ava, you adorable, smart, loved, loved, loved girl, happy first birthday.