From the moment of his conception, even before we knew he would be a HE, Kirk has been the love of my life. He is a mighty ball of energy, of joy and unending fun. He beat the odds to get here and some how, deep inside his 3-year-old being, he seems to know that. And already he savors life, taking advantage of his every waking moment and believing, much like his aunt Michele, that there will always be time to sleep... LATER.
Because my sister's story is not mine to tell, I won't. I will simply say that for over ten years, she has battled Bi-Polar disorder. And, from an outsider's perspective, it is a disease that seems to me to be more of a demon at times than a sickness. I have watched as it has attempted to rob me of my only sister and I have stood by as it has stolen precious time with her. So when she got pregnant, our excitement was quickly replaced by worry and fear that once again this ugly creature would march boldy into our lives to claim not only my sister but also the life she held inside of her. And it did march in. Boldy and fiercely. And we fought tooth and nail. We all did. Each of us in our own way. And while we fought, Kirk sat back and waited patiently for his time to come. But through the 9 months, Kirk and I became very close. We chatted a lot. I loved feeling him move inside my sister's growing belly. And it seemed he recognized the sound of my laughter because he turned flips in response.
On July 8th, 2002, Kirk was born. He did not come without complications of his own, needing surgery just hours after his birth. And he spent some time in the NICU before he was allowed to come home. But I visited him daily, holding him and singing a song or two while we rocked in the rocking chair.
While I already adored him, it was his reaction when I entered a room that sealed the deal for me. His big, wide, toothless smile eventually became a cry of "AUNTIE SHEL!" I think it was the first time I heard those words that I became certifiably addicted to my nephew.
I have never known love like the love I have for this child nor like the love I get from him. In fact I never really thought it was possible to feel this way. I would do anything for him and most days I think he would for me too.
At three, he is a big fan of Scooby Doo. So his pet name for me is now Daphne. And depending on the day, he is either Fred or Scooby. He calls me on the phone at least every other day. If I am not home he leaves a message saying, "Please call me back." The other day, we were stuck in traffic and sweetly he said, "Aunt Michele are you mad at me?" I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. I said, "No Kirk, I am just frustrated with the traffic." And he started saying, "C'mon traffic! Move!" (Anything to make his auntie happy again, I suppose.)
He loves the color orange. Hence the type here. And he just started pre-school but already this morning he told his mom that he was "just too tired to go to school." He loves to help my mom cook and he's a pretty good baker already. He made me a very special cupcake the other day. I am not sure what the special part was supposed to be but in this case, it was definitely the thought that counted.
Kirk is a huge fan of TOY STORY. He quotes the movie all the time. When he isn't watching his favorite movie, he loves to go to the ballpark to take in a Cardinals game. Last week he and I caught a game with my dad. On the way to the stadium from the car, he said, "I see my stadium, Aunt Michele!" Every experience with him is bigger than life. The little moments are magnified into the great experiences they are meant to be.
Today he met me at work at 5 o'clock. I had spent the entire day wondering if I was going to get in trouble or get fired or who knows what. And when I stepped off of the elevator, I saw him standing in the lobby with my mom.
"Hi, buddy," I said.
Kirk caught sight of me. Then, racing through the small group of people who were leaving in front of me, Kirk made his way to me, jumped into my arms, wrapped his skinny little arms around my neck and squeezed as tight as he could.
That must have been my reward for getting through the day.
But there's one thing I know for sure today. And that is that whether I am coming out of work after a long day or dragging myself out of the gutter, that little boy loves me. And I love him.
More than a page full of orange words could ever possible say.
(I love you, buddy.)