A year ago today, I was traveling from Chicago to to have a “Wicked” cousin weekend. The three US cousins joined up with the three Canadian cousins on my Dad’s side to watch the musical “Wicked” at the Canon Theatre in Downtown Toronto.

While on the stretch of 401 that connects Windsor to Toronto, I received a phone call from Dr. Bro. “We’re in L&D,” he told me. “Dr. SIL will be delivering Baby Em tonight.”

It was a shock for everyone, since Baby Em was technically not due for another week. But due to pre-eclampsia, Baby Em would be born that night. So shortly before midnight, a year ago today, Emilia Grace … my first blood-related niece … was born.

Today, my Mom and I are in Dallas, celebrating Emilia’s first birthday. It’s been a wonderful day filled with love and laughter, and sounds of children’s excited little voices. We’ve also heard the sounds of Emilia’s little feet as she crosses the room, walking on her own for only the 6th day of her life.

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I’ve had the chance to watch her “blow out” her candles and devour her birthday cake with such “finesse.” I’ve even had the chance to watch her “open” her gifts and be surprised with what she found. And it has been an absolute joy to be around her; surrounded by those who adore her unabashedly.

As the night winded down, Emilia‚Äôs family — her Mom & Dad, her Grammy & Great-Grammy, and her Lola & Auntie Em — found themselves around the coffee table, feet up and relaxing after such an activity-filled day. At one moment, we all sat quietly, relishing the serenity that descended unto the house. I, myself, felt content with the world; happy in the moment.

It was at that moment I knew that Lolo Medi had come to wish Emilia a Happy Birthday.

Happy 1st Birthday, Emilia Grace. You are loved and cherished by those who surround you.