I whispered upon arrival, to her younger sister, that that high school gym packed with people was the most white people I've seen in a clump since we went to Disney World in 2004. She laughed and laughed at that one -- they came up to visit me over Thanksgiving, so they've all gotten a good front-row seat to my life and its differences to the small rural town in which we were raised.
I spent alot of time with Shelby, this niece of mine, as she grew. She was born when I was 14 to my 18 year old step-sister. This step-sister was fairly recently acquired as even though our parents had been dating since I was about 8 years old, Mom wouldn't marry him for several years. So, our family changed awfully dramatically in that short timespan and we all lived together too for most of the time. On the weekends, her crib was wheeled into my room.
I would wake in the middle of the night and bounce her up and down to popular country songs I'd hum under my breath. She particularly loved this song and I'd sing and dance little motions along with the lyrics "I know what love (bounce) is, WHATS it (dip) to you?"
'Time's up, train's a-moving baby.'
And so, it is her time to move on down the tracks. I made her a video for graduation that had everyone in the room sobbing ugly tears. I was truly not intending that to happen, and I felt guilty. Especially for her younger siblings, who I didn't expect to look like they'd been smacked across the face. It was like it truly hit them that she's leaving. They've been such a tight unit of 3 since they were all born in within a few years of each other.
The video was a trip to make, watching them all grow up again - and me, an awkward teenager, grow up along with them.
She's going to college on a full cheerleading and academic scholarship. She got 'er done, and Aunt Steph is pretty dang proud.