I was in Mexico when my sister announced to the family that she was pregnant with her first child and in Indonesia when she delivered.
Our parents become grandparents, the siblings become uncles and aunts, and the family dog lost his position as the apple of everyone's eye.
I’ve missed a lot of milestones while I’ve been away from my family over this past year, but missing out on the birth of my nephew has been the loss I’ve experienced most viscerally.
He certainly does not need my support at this stage - he is surrounded by a brilliant, loving family that will give him every resource that any kid could hope for.
And this isn't about my kid sister having kids before me.
I’ve always assumed that I’d be more of an uncle character in the lives of the next generation rather than a parent.
(Side note: even grandparenthood appeals to me more than parenthood, and yes, I recognize the logical inconsistency in being one without the other.)
I’ve watched many friends and family have the kids they’ve prayed for and have become progressively better at holding babies in those small periods of well-prepared playtime.
In those many experiences, I do not wistfully look at those households wishing to trade places.
Though I could be a great many things in this lifetime, I am where I need to be.
So what role does one play in the life of a human who seems to have everything?
We often say that it takes a village to raise a child, but overlook the individuals we include in that group.
In my upbrining, my uncles and aunts played a critical role in my life, giving me more perspective than was available just in my household and even about my household itself.
After all, it is not just survival of the fittest individual but survival of the fittest group that makes us more resilient.
We all benefit when the people on our team stretch the outer perimeter of our understanding; continuing to experience and translate the world around us especially when we are limited from doing it for ourselves.
Survival too can be understood beyond simply continuing to remain alive because man cannot live on bread alone. To be human is to deepen our understanding of the consciousness available to each of us.
Then my journey is his journey, and when it is our time to trade notes, I hope to remind him through my example that his growth is a lifetime goal.
I want to tell him the things his parents and grandparents may not know or be too shy to say.
And in turn, I hope he stretches my understanding of what it means to be human in our shared lifetime when my world shrinks through inattention or lucidity.
Uncle and nephew bonded as teammates and allies beyond the distance I experience today and past this earthly lifetime.