My husband is the youngest of seven boys. Most of them still live near where they grew up outside Chicago. Before having our daughter, Casey, we would travel from our home near Dallas to visit them often.
These days, we’re still invited to visit Chicago—to celebrate birthdays, attend graduations, etc. We love those kids and are happy for them. But it’s hard. It’s hard to be happy while on the inside my heart is breaking.
Our Casey isn’t here to celebrate with us. Casey never got to graduate or go to prom.
I don’t let the kids know how hard it is. I smile, and I do my best to be the supportive aunt that I am supposed to be. But it is really tough.
The oldest niece—the one who used to follow me around and whom I used to be really close to—graduated high school last summer. She went off to school this year but was home to celebrate her sister’s Sweet 16 with all of us. She told us all about how excited she was to join a sorority.
It took me back to when I went to school, and I was happy she was having such wonderful experiences. Like always, though, a little part of me was crying on the inside—missing my daughter and wishing she could have had these experiences.
That’s when it happened. That’s when she filled my heart with so much love.
I never saw it coming.
My niece told me about the nonprofits that the sororities support. She told me that was the most important part of the rush experience for her. She said that a lot of them are doing great work, but only one really connected with her. She picked the sorority because it supports the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
She went on to tell me how much being part of Casey’s wish about 10 years ago meant to her. I didn’t know she remembered coming into town for her wish, much less that it meant that much to her.
She related how she told the sorority sisters all about Casey and the wish that she was granted. She told me as soon as she saw that they supported Make-a-Wish, she knew that was the sorority for her.
Maybe I am not as much of a stranger as I thought.
After she said this, her parents chimed in, saying how the whole family gets involved and that they are all so excited to be working toward such a special cause. I held back the tears and even now, weeks later, I’m getting teary just typing these words.
I know it means a lot to her; it means more than she can ever know to me too.
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