Imprint

Your fist rubs your eye as I gather you into my arms and sink into our favorite chair. I feel the curve of your back mold into my body as you burrow your face into your fuzzy pink blankie and I burrow my nose in the soft fuzz of your red, baby-fine hair. I press my cheek against the rounded head beneath me and feel your little arms squeeze once, twice, even though they don't even reach around my shoulders. My lips touch your warm, squishy cheek and I will myself to remember this.

Because you are one, now. I remember holding the brand-new you and doing the same thing: memorizing the grunts and murmurs you made when you curled up on daddy's chest, the exact curve of your cheek against my breast as you nursed, the cooing noises that told us you'd be a talker. I tried to imprint your newborn self on my memory because when I look at you now, I know that the you that you were is gone. Gone the way of so many fleeting moments: rolling to get from place to place, the unsteady wobble of your walk that is already more confident and unbelievably fast.

Now you point and grunt to get our attention. Now you love barking at our neighbor's dog, as if you two could “woof-woof” your way into friendship when you won't let him lick your toes. Now you steer me by taking hold of my pant legs to pull me where you want to go. You are here, but the you that you were is gone. And I must hold you close before you leave me again and leave a new you in her place.

Stay with me, baby. Stay with me.