They say you can’t choose your family.  But if you could, I would choose mine.

3 of my favourite women in the planet are in this picture.  My youngest niece, Charlie.  My cousin, Nikki. If only my other cousin Kerrie, were here!  And my mum.  Love you, Mum.

Being around my nieces has been bittersweet this year.  That word doesn’t even encompass the emotional rollercoaster I have been on around them.  They have blossomed!  They are both so charming and funny and beautiful and generous and witty and sweet and delightful and evil. (And there was deliberately no punctuation there!)

This is Amie, doing the splits.  Just cos she can.  She can do them in the air, too.

As everyone and their mother knows, I am not sleeping well.  When they were packing to leave Boxing Day, I was snatching just a couple of minutes of alone-time on a bed upstairs, listening to Adele’s Downfall.  Amie bounced in like Tigger.  I told her: “Auntie Nina needs to be quiet for a second.  Would you like to come and snuggle?”

She pressed herself into mine until we were concave. And listened to Adele with me.  Her little body against mine, and the lyrics and my general tiredness made me cry.  I cried absolutely silently.  I usually do.  Unfortunately, my back gave a shake and she looked up to see tears rolling down my face and into my ears.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.  I told her “Auntie Nina is just tired, and also sad about her baby”.  “Don’t worry”, she told me, stroking my hair.  “Your baby is in heaven with Great Nanny Iris and Pushka”.  (Pushka is their cat, that used to be my cat before I went to America.)  She said that they are looking after my baby.

I told her it was okay and that sometimes grown-ups are sad, even when it really is okay.  She put a hand either side of my face, and said to me with the seriousness of a 90-year old woman, “I know”.  Now THAT is an old soul.  There is more on this than I am willing to type.

When her sister came in the room, we changed the subject.  Amie asked to play her favourite song.  It’s called (of course) “can’t get no sleep”.

Kim and Steve are doing an amazing job with these girls.  It breaks my heart that I lost my baby, but I am wondering if (non-existent) god has other plans for me.  Maybe I am supposed to help more children than just the ones I can grow?  Who knows how these cards will play out?  Maybe I will start my own charity – not just help with my new friend’s?  (I was supposed to be writing an interview on charity, but instead I am blogging….)

Here is one final picture, just because.  It was taken after we did bedtime yoga, and Kim read us all a story.  I stayed with them until they went to sleep.  And then a bit longer, just to listen to their breathing.

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