As I lie here nursing my son, I catch myself begging.
Don't forget. Please don't forget.
I work to etch every moment into stone, preserve it for the next moment, the next hours, months, years. He is my son, my baby, and I don't know if I'll ever have another one.
Remember this. Don't ever forget it.
The way his cheeks get chubbier when he's sleepy. The foot that won't stay down. The hand, always moving, grasping, moving again. The coos that used to come with every breath and now are rarely heard.
What if this is the only one? Save this. This is the greatest treasure.
I hold him close, press his little tummy to mine, worry a little, pray a lot. Stroke his fine, silky hair that likes to come to a point in the front. I marvel at this tiny person, our little world, the fact that I am his everything. He overwhelms me. His sweetness, his dimples, the "did he just crawl?" siren that rings every few hours.
I'm reminded of the tornadoes in his home state, the siren that blew at 11am on the second Wednesday of each month, the panic I felt the first time I heard it, the moment I looked at the clock, huddled in a tiny bathroom with two dogs and a gallon of water, and thought it odd that a tornado would hit at 11 on the nose.
He's still blond today, I note. A little reddish. I'd thought he'd be a redhead. He's come close a few times, mostly in pictures.
He is a tornado, a thing of life-altering power, a miracle of nature, the most beautiful, terrifying, dangerous thing I've ever known. He shifts, stretches a knee.
Remember the way that felt. He will never be this small, may never be this close, again.
I remember the times he was a newborn, 3 or 4 days old, lying asleep on my stomach. He would shift his weight, and I recognized the movements, had felt them inside me for months. Had he really been inside me, all that time?
Don't forget this, I thought then. You're the only one who knows this, who knows him.
I was afraid we'd be alone before long, too afraid to admit what I knew. Too afraid to face what was coming. Too desperate to save something that was already dead, long dead, hopeless, to do anything but pretend to hope. Pray it back to life. Will it to live, resurrect. Stay. I failed.
How will I ever make him understand?
His jellybean toes are in the air again. He'll be asleep soon. He'll be a teenager soon. I cry, again. I move my head back on the pillow so he won't be stained with my tears.
Don't wake up, sweet baby. Mama needs you to sleep.
It's been a week of tears, of loss, of pain. Angry fists and quiet tears. Papers and conversations and silence. Pureed carrots, library books, sheets in the wash, and lots of wakeful baby during what used to be my quiet, productive evenings.
How will I do this alone? Does he already know how I've failed him?
The baby part is the easy part, and I can't even get this right. We haven't read a story in 2
days. The dog chewed one of his favorite toys in the night. It's been so long since I vacuumed that he cried when I finally ran it, the noise too big and unfamiliar. Soon he'll be chasing the vacuum on all fours, catching the frogs with a friend, asking for the car keys.
Be his witness. You're all he has right now.
I hold my dearest one close, press him against me, inhale. I'm alone, and never alone.