We were swaying to the lullabye, our reflection keeping time in the hazy mirror. I watched us, her hand on my arm sliding to and fro, her face drawn in a lazy smile, an expression of utter contentment on both our faces. I imagined her standing beside me, long limbs and taut muscles electric with ability and a life thick with things that have nothing to do with me. I squeeze her as I crane my face into press against her cheek.
Remember this baby, hold this squeeze for later.
She smiles and points, “Bay-bee. Uh bay-bee a mama!” I grin and point back. I step closer to the mirror and sharpen our reflection, my attempt to fill more of this sliver in time. Minutes being choked by days that turn into night and then morning before I know it. Longer necks, brighter eyes and the cruel slash of a perfectly pronounced word, “Ummmm, juice.”
I felt myself deny the laptop and the emails it held, deciding instead to define this afternoon as more memory than accomplishment. We danced there before the mirror for a while. My hands cupped her body, the entire length of my arms at work cradling her long torso and legs. Her belly pressed into mine as she cocked her head to look back and forth between reflection and real.
“It’s me. I am right here and right there. Right here holding you.”
She softly shuffled her feet and shimmied her body closer into my arms. Tinier and closer.
“I’m always going to be your mama, sweet Fin. And you know what? You know what my littlest you?”
She extended her neck and waited, a grin upon her face as I pointed to the mirror.
“You will always, always, always be my baby, even when you are the biggest of all.”
We smiled at each other and ourselves and I tried to imagine how this memory would taste years and years later. Like the traces of sugar on a wrapper, I think I’ll find sweetness and dust and the tiniest sensation that i beat the system and got a little more.
I waited a while longer before laying her in the crib, though her eyes were drowsy and she was ready to go. I traced the dimples on her elbows and touched my lips to hers until I felt her start to giggle. Then I put her tenderly into her crib, whispering how much I loved her because you never know when it will be the last time.