Of all the things that have broken my heart this year, being out of contact with My Darling Niece ranks right up there close to the very top of the list.

Tomorrow she’ll be 24. A year and a half ago she graduated from the University of Washington with a major in communications, yet since she cashed my check, she has not chosen to communicate with me.

I’m sure it has more to do with what she’s been told than anything I actually did or said. Family dynamics are like that; sides are drawn, and lines are not crossed, even when they should be. And I’m also sure that still living at home stifles her ability to draw her own conclusions.

She’s still young, and unless I meet an early end, there’s still time. I just hope someday in the not-to-distant future she’ll remember there are two sides to every story. And when she asks for mine, I’ll tell her. But she’ll have to ask.

Until then, I’ll wish her well from afar. A very Happy Birthday, MDN. Your formerly favorite aunt (MFA) sends her love and constant wishes for your health and well-being.