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300225.jpgMy college band, Smokey Junglefrog, released its third and final album, “She’s My Niece,” concurrent to our disbanding on May 15, 1993.

The title of the album was borrowed from a birthday card my bassist, Paul Perreault, had given me. The front of the card was a mixtape with a collection on niece-oriented songs: She’s My Niece (And She’ll Cry If She Wants To),” etc. We found it funny at the time.

My brother, Christofer, drove two hundred miles from Saratoga Springs to video tape the band’s final performance at the Zodiac Club in downtown Syracuse, New York. Later that night, we tossed a box empty of cassettes into the garbage alongside dozens of empty Milwaukee Best 16 ouncers, and settled into the couch to screen our final show. Sadly, my brother had used a Dig8 tape instead of Hi8. Our final show and “She’s My Niece” release party was lost forever. As we sat there laughing at our misfortune, the prospect of having a niece was the furthest thing from my mind.

Yesterday morning at 3:54, my sister-in-law Jennifer delivered a ten pound, two ounce, brown-haired beauty — the first baby girl of our generation. Last night, Abbi and I snuck out of work early to meet her.

She slept nearly clear through our visit. I held her for a few minutes. She radiated warmth, and stirred only to sneeze, cry, and make tiny, adorable baby sounds in response to my hushed singing.

Ethan and Edward stomped around the apartment defiantly oblivious to their new, fragile little sister. As the evening wore on, though, they settled. Just before I left, Jennifer placed her in their laps. Edward stroked her hair as Ethan gently and proudly cradled her. I kissed them on their cheeks, told them that I loved them and was proud of them for being good big brothers, and stepped out into the warm, winter night.

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