Dave and I have ten nieces and nephews. Miss Lauren Quinn is our oldest and is now 18. She has been our experimental baby. I was only 22 when she was born and I had just graduated from college. She was the first baby that Dave had ever held as we started dating when she was four months old. Lauren was born in September, a week before my sister Laura got married. With the wedding and new baby, Mary Beth had taken the week off work, and Ann was recovering from the whole experience. It quickly became clear that the four of us were no match for this baby and we were in way over our heads. We tried to give her a bath and she cried so hard and loud that one of the neighbors came over to see what was wrong. I can't tell you how many hours I have walked her around holding her facing out as she refused to cuddle. As she has gotten older we have tried a ton of things with her, and the rest of the kids have benefited from what we have learned.
As the Little Miss has grown, it has been like watching myself grow up all over again. She is an intimate meshing of my heart and soul and I wish I could shelter her from the inevitable mysteries and disappointments in life. She was a shy child and full of angst just like I was. Watching her make it through middle school almost brought me to my knees as that was not such a great gig the first time around. I felt like I could read her mind and feel her every emotion. She has grown to be someone that I am so very proud to call my niece.
Lauren is the daughter that I will never have. I get all of the benefits of having a daughter without having to do all the hard work. In the fall Lauren will be going to college. There are so many things I want to tell her. There are still so many things she needs to learn. I am the luckiest aunt in the world because I get to be a part of it, and I get to watch her blossom into who she is going to become. I want to thank her parents for letting me ride along on this journey. It has meant the world to me.
I love you Lauren Quinn!