She's getting married!

Oh my goodness! How the time has flown!

Miss Karlie Jane Morrell will become 
Mrs. Karlie Jane Anzivino 
one month from today!

From the day she was born, this little lady has had my heart. Karlie was the first girl in our family since my birth. Between my two brothers and me, we had four boys before we got the first of our very special girls. All the boys are special too, of course! But for this aunt, who didn't have a sister and didn't have a daughter, my nieces have been extra special blessings in my life. (I have four from my brothers; Karlie, Lexi, Nicole and Ashley, and five more who came into my life when I married John; Phoebe, Sarah, Olivia, Ashleigh, and Taylor.)

Karlie & Lexi
The early years
But this post is dedicated to Karlie, my very FIRST niece. And the one who is about to become a bride. 

I remember being in the hospital room and seeing her the moment she was born. She was swollen and her lips were large (beautiful, but picture collagen injected lips on a newborn). We were all immediately smitten and exclaiming, "Oh, Cheryl! She's beautiful! And she has your lips!" Cheryl was worn out from hours of induced labor (and no drugs), feeling a little fragile. "You're telling me that's what my lips look like???!!!" she said in despair. It was a funny moment none of us will ever forget. I held Karlie for the first time and knew life was about to change in a really cool way.

As a baby and toddler, Karlie was sober and she could be aloof. Her personality is nothing like that today. I think she just sensed how special she was and that we were willing to work for her smiles and attention. It gave her a lot of power. She had a look that strangers didn't know how to take and would sometimes comment on. I don't think the term "resting b**** face" had been invented yet. I thought of her as our little Cleopatra. Then Lexi came along and she was the new little darling. We didn't have to work for Karlie's attention anymore. We could just say, "Oh, you don't want to be bothered? Lexi will enjoy my attention." 😜 Karlie quickly warmed up and tossed her crown.

They've been a duo since they were tiny. As they grew, they formed a bond as tight as twins. In fact, once they were closer in size, a lot of people started to ask if they were twins. They were each other's best girlfriends (and still are). And they were my little buddies. I spent a lot of time at their house. I was close to their mom. And she was always happy to share the girls with me. She even calls me their second mom, which is a demonstration of her generous heart. The girls spent a lot of time with me at my house. We did lots of lunches, overnight stays, trips. Taco nights. Pizza nights. So many fun memories. I love the memories of eating dinner with their family so many nights while I was separated and going through a bitter divorce. Karlie was observant and she pointed out one night at the table how I sighed at the end of a laugh and how I unconsciously tapped my fingernails on my glass. Chris and Cheryl were always there for me in my rough years. I was always welcome to just drop in and hang out. So I had lots of precious time with the kids.

I think our favorite pastime (at my house) was playing models. We'd experiment with hairstyles and have photo shoots. They were the best posers. And then I'd get copies made for their parents. I never wish I could return to the days when they were little because I enjoy them more than ever as young women. But weren't they adorable???

Summer 2000

August 3, 2002
I was going through a particularly rough period of time after Ashley was born. I moved an hour away just before Nicole was born, when I married John. So I didn't have as many opportunities to spend time with Nicole or Ashley when they were little. Then five years ago we moved to West Virginia. And it became even less convenient to do things spontaneously. But I see them as often as possible when I'm in Nashville. Each of them continue to add their special joy and sparkle to my life.

When I think about getting old, I feel joy, comfort and gratitude as I anticipate having their love and presence in my "golden" years. I don't like the idea of my care falling on anyone I love, but I hope (as long as I'm not senile) we will always enjoy each other's company. If I stay youthful and healthy, I imagine many more lunches, dinners, beach trips, and maybe even some other fun travel in our futures. I believe our bond is for a lifetime. And I've always looked forward to watching their adult lives unfold, even though it means that I too must get older.

It's been exciting to witness Karlie falling in love with someone who shares her passion for God and complements her personality so well. Matthew Anzivino is absolutely Karlie's Mr. Right (and vice versa). In the short time I've known him, I've been impressed. And they are a very cute couple.

This past Saturday was Karlie's wedding shower.
Nieces: Karlie, Nicole, Ashley, Lexi
and Great Niece Aliyah
I walked into the decorated youth room at Northridge and felt the tears well up in my eyes as it all became so real. They were tears of joy with a little bit of "How did she grow up so fast?" And they were a surprise. I didn't expect that surge of emotion until the wedding. I can only imagine how teary I will be on that day! It's going to be a wonderful celebration of families coming together and the start of Matt and Karlie's new life together. I look forward to being Matt's aunt too.

Karlie, you know how much you mean to me. I have told you many times what a blessing you have always been. You were the first member of our family to share my extremely open and expressive personality traits. And I loved it every time your parents would say, "She is so much like you." It's been fun having you "get me" the way you do and relate to me on so many levels. We have our differences too. But our temperament and transparency, our tendency to say whatever is on our mind, along with our "edge" and our love for food, are all fun things to have in common.

It's been a privilege to be your aunt and honorary second mom. I could only be that with your mom's 100% support. I'll never forget how good it made me feel the first time your #1 mom referred to me that way to someone. I will be forever grateful to her for sharing you (and your sisters) with me. She has always valued my role in your life and has never treated me like a rival or a perceived threat. She has always trusted me. She has never withheld you from me. She doesn't just call me your second mom. She honors me by being the one to give me that place in your life as your actual mother. It has assured me that she has always known how much I love and adore you and that she knows you are safe with me. One day, when you and Lexi have kids and Lexi makes you feel that same trust and appreciation as an aunt, you will know in a fuller way just how good that feels.

I'm so proud of the woman you've grown into. I've been proud of you at every stage of your life. And when I see the beauty of your heart, I remember our many conversations about how important it is to be pretty on the inside.

Thanks for enduring the occasional lecture about showing respect for your mom with your words and tone of voice (hehe). Thanks for loving me and accepting me as I am. Thanks for investing time in our relationship even as you've gotten older and busier. And thanks for consistently showing me that you value our relationship. That means more to me than I could ever express in words. I could not love you more if I had given birth to you myself. And I will always be here for you if and when you need me.

Hopefully I will age well and be a fun little old lady right up to the end of my life! That's the goal. But none of us has complete control over our health challenges or how we might change cognitively in old age. That's why the memories we've made and the ones we are in the process of making are so precious and important. I treasure you, Karlie. And from the day you were born, my desire was to pour into you and make sure you always felt loved by and special to your Aunt Shari...

Congratulations on finding your true love!



           ...I love you!


Anonymous said…
Thats great news you must be really excited , , how is john doing ?
stewie (steve)
Shari said…
Hi Steve! John is doing well! He got the dreaded flu that was going around this year and the cough has been tough to completely overcome. But his CLL is in a good remission with venetoclax. Ten years now since initial diagnosis and very healthy by the grace of God and these new drugs! Hope you are doing well!