Six years ago today I sat in a park, on a sunny winters day. I was in that park with my eleven year old niece and three year old nephew.
I had watched these children grow up from the day they were born. I was eleven when my niece came into the world. During her first couple of years they lived within a ten minute walk from us. I had watched her waddle around in her nappies with her big cheeky grin, bossing around their boxer and bringing sunshine into our lives. Then as she grew, a couple of times a week I would pick her up on my way home from school, from preschool, then kindergarten, and walk her home with me. Some days we’d have a half an hour or so of Aunty/niece time before mum would get home or my sister would come to pick her up. As an adult I would often babysit my niece and nephew.
This day in the park was the first time I’d been alone with the kids since I’d left Brent. My sister, their mother, was the first person I had began to admit the truth to whilst I was still with him. He had made me go from the aunt who was in so many little moments of these children’s lives to having a home their mother wasn’t comfortable visiting, let alone asking me to babysit. I had missed them so much, Brent had been so successful at making me afraid of talking to and seeing people who loved me.
Today was a gorgeous sunny winter’s day, similar to that day in the park. However, on this day six years ago, as I played in the park with my niece and nephew, I knew that I had the potential to have my own child the following summer. I was still unsure of what decision to make, I was still considering the situation surrounding it.
Watching how happy the children were, remembering all the moments I’d been there for when they were babies was toying with my mind so much. Yet, whether it was later that day or over the following days, I knew what was meant, or not meant, to be in my life.
Six years of sunny winter days have passed and throughout each one I have wondered about the child that could have been. I won’t deny that I have had a lot of ‘What if?’ moments. For all this time, even though I don’t doubt that I made the right decision, I’ve felt an empty space in my heart, particularly this time of year. The different thing this year was, that recently, not all on my own and not without some heartbreak, I began to open up my heart and soul. Now that I realise that I have been closed and protected for so long, perhaps there won’t be many more empty hearted winters like the last six.