Tuesday, February 5, 2019

One is the loneliest number......

We welcomed another niece into the family this past weekend
Lucy was over the moon
Partly because she was excited for her cousin to become a big sister but mostly because she and her new cousin share a middle name
Sunday, we were in the car on our way to Target, talking about the new baby and looking at the pictures on my phone my sister sent when Lucy stopped speaking mid-sentence
I looked over and her eyes were all watery
She turned and looked at me and when she blinked, the tears slid down her cheek
I pulled over unsure of what was wrong as she still had not said anything
Honey, what happened? What's wrong????
I just realized I'm the only cousin who is an only child!
Her chin was touching her chest and her shoulders heaved as she sighed and stifled a sob
My throat closed up and I had to swallow a few times before I could speak
My eyes burned and I was trying really hard not to let tears form in the corners of my eyes
I shook my head thinking it would stave off the wave of emotions rolling through my my mind and squeezing my heart so hard it felt as if it were breaking in two
Oh Lucy, honey......I'm......I don't......
Words failed me and we sat in silence
A few minutes passed and I found my voice reminding Lucy her oldest cousin is an only child
But he's all grown up in college Mumma! I'm the only little cousin with no brothers and no sisters! All I have are cats - I can't even get a dog because our stupid house is too small and you and Daddy work! And now, I'm the only kid who is an only kid in our whole family and I hate it! Besides, he was probably as miserable as I am but just never told anyone because he's a boy! And I'll be alone when you and Daddy die!
There was nothing for me to say
So we sat in silence for a few more minutes, both of us regrouping and trying to figure out if we should get our emotions under control or just let them run wild
This being an only child has come up countless times in Lucy's little life
A couple years ago, we spent a week with my brother and his family which includes our 3 nephews
Sure, they fought and teased one another unmerciful
But they also looked out for one another and stuck up for each other and at night, would sneak into each other's rooms to talk or seek comfort from the dark
By week's end, Lucy was fighting with them as much as they fought with each other but, she also became protective and attached to them
She cried all the way to the airport
This past summer, we spent time in England with my sister-in- law and her family which includes two nieces
The girls adore one another and could spend hours in each other's company - sometimes talking, sometimes just compatible silence and sometimes giggling, singing, dancing and being silly
And sure, sometimes arguing and disagreeing with one another
But there was something so comfortable and comforting about their relationship
Lucy would stand off to the side watching them and though they did their best to include her, it threw their rhythm off a bit and it was clear Lucy was an interloper
But they shared secrets and hugs and laughs with her whilst we were there
Once, a couple kids teased her about being an only child and told her we did not have more kids because she was so terrible and angry and difficult to deal with.......that we decided not to have anymore kids because they could be like her
Lucy expertly fought back and informed her tormentors that was not the reason at all but instead, we did not have more kids because "My Mum had her vagina removed! She can't have anymore kids you morons!"
For the record, it was not my vagina I had removed, just had a good old fashioned hysterectomy
But that did not stop her from coming home and asking me to confirm she was not a horrible child and she was not the reason we only had one child
All I could do was assure her she was not a horrible child or a troublemaker or an angry child and she was not the reason we only had one child but instead, we were lucky she was the child we got to have
What I could not and don't tell my 9 year old is how heart broken I am at not being able to give her a brother or sister
What I don't tell her is how hard it is for me to see or hear about someone else I know having a baby
How the sight of a pregnant belly can send me into a dark and jealous spiral
What I don't tell her is how much my heart hurts when I look at her baby pictures and realize I will never have another baby
What I don't tell her is how much it hurts when I realize all her firsts were the first and last firsts I will ever know
What I don't tell her is that I am scared she will have the same struggles and heartbreak I had
What I don't tell her is how hard it was for me when the doctors finally said we're removing your uterus and I realized my time was up
I cleared my throat and took a deep breath before I started talking
Lucy, honey....
She was leaning back in the seat with her head turned away from me looking out the side window
She rolled her head towards me but kept her eyes down
I'm sorry kiddo - I love you
I put out my hand and when she nestled hers within mine, I clasped it as tightly as I could
She squeezed back
I'm sorry pal......
It's okay Mumma, I know it makes you just as sad as it makes me.....and I'm happy I have a new cousin and M gets to be a big sister....I just wish......
I know kiddo, I know
And then I tell Lucy how much we love her and how much love, laughter and light she has brought into our lives
I remind her that even though she is an only child, like her oldest cousin, she will soon find her world filled with friends who can be as close and as important as siblings
I tell her that family is not only blood, and the same last names and sharing grandparents, but family is also defined in so many other ways and though she may not have a sibling, her "family" is so much bigger than the traditional definition and that her family will continue to grow
And I remind her that no matter what, her Dad and I will forever and always love her
Can we maybe try to see my cousins more so I am not so alone?
Sure Luce
Even though they all live away?
Yes honey, we'll try
Because Mum, you and Dad are getting old and I don't want to be alone when you die and I am the most scared of that
I know pal, we'll do what we can and I promise, you will not be alone when we die
Yes honey
I'm sorry about how sad this make you
It's ok pal, it makes us all sad but we just have to remember how lucky we are to have one another and that we need to work harder at seeing our family so we have those relationships
Ok Mumma.....you know what would make you feel better?
What's that?
A dog!
A fish?
A turtle? A gerbil? A hamster? A lizard?
Nope, negative, not going to happen kiddo
Ok well, if you change your mind, Dad and I really want a dog...
Got it pal, noted!
Can we go home?
We drove home in silence, the errand forgotten
As we were getting out of the car and headed up the walkway, Lucy took my hand
You know what I do like about being an only kid?
What's that?
I get you and Dad all to myself!
Thanks Luce, that makes me happy to hear you say
Also, when you do die, I won't have to split your money with anyone!
I stopped mid stride and started to form a response
But it sort of came out like a sigh crossed with an umph crossed with a how the fuck am I supposed to respond to that statement crossed with the thought of well, she's not wrong......
And I'm pretty sure face contorted into a weird look each time I took a breath trying to come up with a verbal response.....
Lucy giggled
It's a joke Mum! Seemed like it was getting pretty serious so I thought we needed to break it up a little
I chuckled and started walking again
You're right Lucy, and yes, you do get all our money, so yeah, I guess there's that.....
This time it was Lucy who stopped mid-stride and exclaimed with a little too much excitement for my liking....
Just how much money are we talking?!?!?