You’re too young; you won’t remember wriggling in your body, hugging my neck hard with those pretty, fat hands, giving kisses and showing us the food you’ve chewed up before you swallow it. (We delight in this; yes, we are those people, laughing at one child’s antics in a restaurant.) I’m leaving you–aunties are meant to leave for a while, go to other countries, come back with strange scarves and foreign chocolate as presents. But there has never been space between us, you little one, and me, and not between me and your big sister, the careful, wise child to whom I cannot even bear to say goodbye. (Beauty mark. Inner wrist. You have my whole heart.)
I’m going away. Moving, over land-land-ocean. How will you get there? Your big sister asks. Airplane. Luck. With thoughts of your small faces and easy laughs in my mind.
Be good, littlest niece. Jump in the Fall leaves. Grow as big as you can–I’ll bite my tongue not to say “don’t get bigger”–and show it all off to me when I come home to hold you, soft, in my arms again.
As to you, California redwoods, sunshine, ocean, and city fog: we’ll ride the days out together as you’re in my veins, pumping my blood, moving me forward.