It was humid, first off. That kind of muggy feel to the air that makes you work a bit harder to inhale a shallow breath. Dots of storms had come and gone throughout the day, but none yet had alleviated the thick heat that permeated our front yard. After an early rise and a long day working outdoors I needed a moment to just be. I sat wearily in my decade old lawn furniture pulled up under an oak tree for shade. I gulped hungrily from the pitcher of ice water I had brought along, and I closed my eyes willing the faint breeze to increase its whisper upon my flushed cheeks.
Oh Lord, I’m tired.
You came up quickly like a giggling, six year old tornado. The gap between your front teeth added to the character of your joyous grin, and the sun seemed to shine right from the center of your contagious, bubbly personality.
“Hi Momma!” you sang, and your baby blue eyes sparkled like a thousand oceans as you hopped around my chair hanging on its arm.
“Hold me!” you chirped, climbing clumsily into my lap, your long, tan legs slipping across my sweat-glistened knees.
“It’s so hot, baby!” I muttered.
My mind flashed quickly. Multiple images flipping through my mind.
Your squishy, fat, newborn face. Oh, how I cried when I held you.
Your fourteen year old sister who wanted to be alone in her room more than in the living room with us. Sometimes she didn’t even remember to say goodnight.
The look of pride on your face the night before as you stood before me, face freshly scrubbed, a fuzzy robe tied around you. You had showered all by yourself. I didn’t even help you rinse.
That time you stood on the back of the shopping cart, wild sweating hair, flushed cheeks, and I had almost cried because it was the first time I realized you didn’t look like a baby anymore.
You were getting older, more independent, and I wondered then how much longer I would have these moments where you wanted to crawl into my lap. I hoped you always would, but I also knew one day you might not want to.
“Yes, baby,” I whispered. “I’ll always hold you.”
Eventually you broke my embrace, you ran off in search of new adventures, and I watched you skip away while happiness hung around me thicker in the air than any weight humidity could muster. Perhaps, I mused, some days I missed the moments that wouldn’t last forever. Some days it was too hot, or I was too tired, but I hoped overall I would keep in mind the gift that I received each time you smiled your special smile, laughed your musical laugh, and asked me to hold you.
“Yes, baby. I will always hold you.”