Joy comes in all shapes and sizes. It comes in huge occasions and simple reminders. It comes in laughter and smiles. It can come through the familiarity of friends and family or the serendipity of strangers. Pure joy is the catalyst for hope when times are tough, faith when things are uncertain, and love when times are painful.
My simple reminder and the one who has reintroduced me to this feeling of joy is my beautiful niece, Victoria Mae.
Yes, I’m an uncle now. When I first found out, the fears that come from children – their diapers, tantrums, fidgety bodies – left me thinking I’d be one bum of an uncle. But the past three months have given me a new form of confidence, a greater sense of joy in my life, and a vision for the future.
When I first met Victoria Mae, I did have my fears, but they were suddenly subsided by her presence. A tiny swaddled baby was placed in my arms, and my hesitation and fears seemed to drift away. Yes, it took a couple seconds to find my groove – after all, holding a newborn is like cuddling jello: it is delicate, with movements you aren’t expecting. It felt oddly normal, with greater familiarity building as time went on.
Now in her three months of life, I’ve changed more dirty diapers than I ever thought I would encounter. I can hold her in my arms with no fears whatsoever (and balance my smartphone for some good selfies). I found that singing the Canadian National Anthem when she is fussy, may or may not be what calms her down, but I enjoy singing it to her anyway. She can already respond to a camera and reciprocates smiles immediately. She already has a better wardrobe than most people, because my trips to JCPenney are now interrupted by a visit to the baby section.
Her smile takes away my stresses and worries and the moments I spend with her assure me that things will all be okay. While this time of my life has been framed with unfathomable loss, Tori has managed to be the best form of healing, and the spark of reintroducing joy in my life. Tori has not only given me the gift of joy, but she has given me the gift of the future. For the first time in months, I imagine what the future looks like. I look at the future and see possibilities, and am filled with excitement for what is to come.
She’s changed me and she’s bettered me. It’s amazing that a tiny human can be so powerful in her young life. Then again, I have the best niece on the earth, so it doesn’t surprise me. I think the most significant thing that Tori has managed to do for me is to make me feel like myself again. She has allowed me to feel like my weird, happy, optimistic and funny self. Occasionally in our lives there come times that make us doubt who we are, lose our hope and optimism for what comes next, and allow the desolation to drown out the light. But then there are the unexpected surprises, and arrivals, that bring us pure joy. They are the simple reminders of how life can be beautiful and inspiring.
Tori has been that reminder that despite the sadness, and desolation that arrives on our doorstep, there are that many more amazing surprises that bring us to see the beauty in our world and the joy in our lives. If she has done this having only been around for three months, I can only imagine the beautiful human she is going to grow to be, and the amazing gifts she’ll bring this world.
Thank you, Tori, for being the best gift your Uncle Chewy could’ve asked for, and I only hope that I can be the same for you.