February 17, 2009

I have two nieces, Emery and Merrill.


Emery, the older, is almost four. She tilts her head up to me and looks at me with her big, almond-shaped eyes and asks, “Bud, do you want to play with me?” She is so shy that she needs thirty minutes to warm up when she hasn’t seen me in a while. Once she warms up, though, she wants to ride everywhere on my shoulders. I love this. We talk about what we see and her favorite things and what she’s been doing. I can almost hear her mind work.


I love her simplicity and trust. She doesn’t know to get embarrassed about certain things like staring at strange-looking people, picking her nose, or eating meal composed entirely of bacon. The rest of her diet includes chicken nuggets, chocolate, rice, and a few other foods. My mom—Emery calls her “Kiki”—gave her $3 for Valentine’s Day, and Emery showed me how much money she had in her purse. When people fart or whatever you want to call it, she grins, wrinkles up her nose, and whispers, “Toot, toot.” Sometimes, she starts giggling. Emery brushes hair out of her face with the affectation of a tiny princess.



Emery’s younger sister Merrill turned one in December. This past Saturday, February 14, 2009, she developed a new trick: whenver she saw her mom, my older sister, she would shriek a very happy shriek which made everybody within earshot turn and smile. Such a big noise from a little source. Merrill weighs just under sixteen pounds, but she’s been walking for months. She’s the smallest walking person I’ve ever seen. She’s much more outgoing than her older sister. While we were in Mast General Store the other day, she walked right up to an old woman who was looking at sock monkeys and wrapped her arms around the woman’s legs and leaned into her. The woman was, of course, delighted, and started telling my dad and I about her great-grandson Dominic. “Irish through and through,” she said. Merrill was on to other adventures at this point.

Merrill is uncomplicated. When she’s tired, she cries. When she’s hungry, she cries. She has a small red birthmark between her eyes that looks like a bindi. But the most important thing: she reaches for me. She’ll snuggle her head into the crook of my neck. This tiny child doesn’t even weigh enough to make it on the charts that follow a toddler’s development. Yet, when my mom told her no, she stamped her foot. How is that possible? She is so breakable and loving. How can she be so loving?


I pray that they both grow up and fall in love with God the way I fell in love with them. I know that life will break them at some point. I hate thinking about it. But at least I know of a good place for broken people—the heart of Jesus.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: