After her brother died, the writer Jessie Glenn became consumed with caring for her brother’s daughter. She transferred her niece’s belongings from her brother’s house to hers and meticulously recreated her niece’s bedroom, from paint color to stuffed animal placement. When her niece wanted to talk to her dad, Ms. Glenn responded using her brother’s email address. Ms. Glenn knew she could never replace her niece’s father but she was determined to act as a proxy.
When a family experiences loss, familial roles are often redefined. In this episode, the Sugars and Ms. Glenn answer letters from people who are unexpectedly charged with caring for new family members.
In one letter, “Pretend Momma” wants to raise her nephew while her sister serves a prison sentence, but she wonders, “How can I raise this child as my own always knowing my sister may come back to claim him? Is there any way not to get my heart broken?”
Ms. Glenn is the author of the Modern Love article, “Are You There, Dad? It’s Me, Alice.”
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