My cousin leaves for Iraq today.
I'll admit, I haven't seen him in person for at least 10 years. Then, he was a typical teen boy closed up in his room with a set of headphones totally avoiding the crazy cousin who just wanted to hug on him. Plus, there's no doubt the infant and toddler I had with me caused him to turn up the volume and crawl farther into the teen boy cave.
But despite that, this kid has a special place in my heart. I'm sure I'm turning into a sappy old woman, and if he ever sees this he'll probably be mad, but this is how I remember him...
See, he really did love me!
Funny thing is, even though I have hundreds of memories of him, mostly little everyday things, he probably doesn't remember much about me since most of the time we spent together he was between 2 and 6 years old.
While I was in college in Florida, I spent my summers living in Wisconsin with his family, working at his dad's business, and playing nanny for him and his younger sister alot. I spent most holidays with his family too, so it was almost like me coming home when we were together.
I was proud of the fact that even though I was "not a real mom" I could dress and feed two kids, pack a diaper bag, strap them in the car seats, and take the mini-van down to the grocery store or even to the mall for a whole day without blinking an eye; not to mention caring for them for up to a week at a time if my aunt and uncle needed to travel. Granted they were good kids and I was the cool cousin (not the mom) which made it fun. If they had been alot of trouble, I probably would have been scarred for life and never had kids of my own.
I feel like I really watched him grow up, even though I've mostly missed the last 17 years of his life. So, please keep him and all our troops in your prayers today and every day.