When I began the blog and sent the link to Julianne, she told me early on it in its inception that she was reading it and liked it. My sister-in-law Kate, her mother, mentioned to me that Julianne was reading it often, and occasionally I get text messages from her commenting on my posts. I am humbled to have someone I love so dearly so invested in a personal project-- but Julianne showing how supportive she is, and how much she cares for a family member, is simply at the core of the wonderful young woman she is.
It's a little surreal to refer to Julianne as a young woman; so often when I think of her I envision the curly haired, energetic toddler who was my first born niece. But now she's 15, this stunningly tall blonde whose beauty sometimes takes my breath away, who carries herself with such quiet grace it's hard to remember she's the same girl who once literally almost bounced my grandmother out of bed she was jumping on it so vigorously. A part of my "first generation" of nieces and nephews, when it overwhelms me how quickly Julianne has grown it makes me realize how much I need to cherish the babyhood and childhoods of my "second generation" of nieces and nephews. I wish that I had been more acutely aware of how fleeting those days would be when Julianne was still into playing dress up and with stuffed animals.
That being said, I love my relationship with Julianne now, too. We've gone running together, she's slept over, and we've had real, serious conversations...we're only 12 years apart, and so I know the older she gets the narrower our age gap will become. While she'll always be my niece, she's also become a good friend, and a wonderful one at that. Julianne is good natured and kind, quick to offer help to anyone in need. She's an awesome sister and "big cousin", and the playfulness and energy of her childhood resurfaces regularly-- this sprite-like look coming across her eyes, one that I think I share with her, as well. Julianne is intelligent, hard working, athletic, and has a laugh that fills a room. It's been amazing to watch her grow up, watching her grow into this beautiful woman, one I am so grateful to have in my life.
Often when I write something about a family member or friend, something has sparked an impetus to reflect on who they are and the role they play in my life. Since I've realized Julianne's readership of this blog I've decided to just have hers come out of the blue, because with Julianne (and honestly all of my family and friends) there's no need for a reason to be thankful...because I am, always.
My stunning niece