Canada Day of 2012 was the day I met K.B. for the first time. My husband and I were throwing a small July 1st barbecue for family and friends. I knew my brother had recently started dating someone and encouraged him to bring her along. It was still very new for him, so he wasn’t quite sure at first, but he ended up bringing K.B.
I smile when I think about how quickly we all fell in love with her that day, particularly my stepson Ethan. He immediately warmed to her (as did most people) and he insisted on showing her all the treasures in his room. When I checked in on them a short while later, I found that he had enlisted K.B.’s help in putting dinosaur stickers all over his bedroom walls. He had sweet-talked her into believing they were wall stickers rather than the regular impossible-to-peel-off stickers that they actually were.
K.B. felt terrible when she found out, but I think her belief in Ethan solidified his love for her.
My husband is from Texas and that’s where Ethan lives for most of the year with his mother. We only get to see him a few months out of the year during the summer and it’s difficult for all of us. Last summer when our son Seamus was born, we were concerned about Ethan feeling left out as we struggled to adjust to a newborn.
K.B. played a big part in reassuring Ethan that he was just as loved and cherished as the new baby. If she came over with a gift for the baby, there was one for Ethan, too. She always showed him that she was interested in what he had to say. When she and Chris celebrated Canada Day with us for the second year in a row, Ethan was delighted.
This year when we threw Seamus’ first birthday party, Chris carried on K.B.’s tradition of bringing a gift for both boys. He gave Ethan two Transformers, which nearly sent our 8 year old Transformer fanatic into orbit; one was large and one was a miniature. When Chris told me that he had found the small one in K.B.’s glove box it was all I could do not to cry. She had obviously bought it many months ago for Ethan and just hadn’t had the chance to give it to him.
This year our Canada Day celebrations were quiet, with just our immediate little family. But K.B. was never far from my thoughts. I found out that she wasn’t far from Ethan’s, either. He asked me when “the others” were coming over. “What others?” I asked him. “Well, Uncle Chris…” The rest of the sentence drifted off and he made a waving motion with his hand that let me know he was thinking of someone else, too.
I’m grateful to K.B. for so many things, too many to mention, but one of the things about her that I cherish the most is how special she made our little boy feel. Ethan may not have had the chance to spend a lot of time with his Auntie K.B., but the time he did spend with her clearly left a huge imprint on him.
I think about her often when I’m with my boys and I strive to leave that kind of positive impact with them as well. I may not always succeed, but I continue to be inspired by her.