My cousin let me hold her new baby girl when the sweet thing was just a few hours old. Not sure what to make of our new family member and totally freaked out that I'd break her little head, it's the first time I remember holding a baby so small and fragile. And being the bratty 12-year old that I was, I was totally skeptical about the whole thing.
The little bundle of baby started to grow on me, with her big brown eyes and innocent gaze, and I began babysitting Elizabeth when she was just three months old. If a pre-teen and an infant can be besties, we were it. I changed her diapers, warmed her bottles, swayed her and sang to her as she fell asleep. My heart began to love her like a sister as the sweet little baby grew into a fiesty young girl.
Eventually, my cousin and her family moved to Hawaii, with an ocean and half a continent separating them from the rest of our family. Just one of the many sacrifices military families have to make for their country. My sister and I spent the summer of 1997 with them on the island of Oahu, eating freeze-pops, hanging out on the beach, and most importantly of all, taking blurry photos with my teeny-tiny super tan bestie.
The military continued to send them around the world and I eventually moved away, too. We grew apart both in distance and familiarity but my teeny-tiny bestie, who evolved from a cute little baby to a pretty little girl and now an independent young woman, always held a special place in my heart. And today, that cute little baby / pretty little girl turns 19 and can't really be called "little" any longer. She's all grown up now, entering her last year as a teenager and navigating her way into young adulthood with grace and confidence.
I'm so proud of you, Elizabeth, and can't wait to see you next week. Happy birthday beautiful girl.
|One of Elizabeth's senior photos, shot by yours truly. :)|