When I was fresh into grieving, beginning my new no-kids-ever-after life, being around children was a reminder of what we had lost, what we would never have, and so often the pain pierced us completely through.
Since then, twelve years have passed, and I now take great joy in my relationships with children, though sadly those are few and far between. We recently stayed with Charlie, and then a week later, had Charlie and her mum visit us. It was a joy, as our relationship took some new steps, and I think I’ve realised why. I’ve reached a stage where I no longer see (I learned not to let myself) Charlie, or any children really, as my possible child, and therefore I’m not reminded constantly of what I have lost. Maybe too, with Charlie, I see the struggles my sister has, and feel a slight degree of relief that I don’t have to deal with those, or the even worse struggles we all know are coming.
Time does change things for us, and stops (for the most part) the hurt - a fact I would have found hard to believe 12 years ago, 10 years ago, maybe even eight years ago. Now though, I am able to find real joy in being an important aunty to a beloved niece.