My family is big. It always has been big. My parents, both raised by large Catholic families, married and produced 8 children. Those children (of which I am the youngest) have produced 26 grandchildren, as well as 2 great-grandchildren. My family is big.
We all gather at Thanksgiving, which I described in a previous post. The joke at Thanksgiving is that extra people are always welcome because no one would notice anyway.
We are always adding to our ranks with 'extras' but there is one spot that has been empty for quite a while, but cannot be filled.
In January of 1994, my niece, Ranie, died. She contracted meningitis and was gone before we knew it. She was only 3 1/2.
To this day, I don't know how my brother, his wife, and their two kids survived such an awful loss. Every year at this time, I find myself thinking about that little sweet girl. I was living out of state at the time, but had just seen them all at Christmas.
No matter how many people join our family, no matter how many babies or weddings or celebrations we share... Ranie is missed. I used to call her my 'Ranie Day' and she called me "Tat-o-ween."
She had a brief life but made a huge impact. Ranie loved Barney. She loved her friends at Bright and Early Day Care. She loved going places with her Grandpa and would grab her coat as soon as he walked in the door.
Some might see sadness that she only had a few years on this earth. I see her little flicker of existance as nothing but a pure blessing. I am so grateful that I knew her and loved her.
Please give your babies, your family and your friends a hug today. You never know how long you will have them in your lives. And tell them the hug is for Ranie Day.