Looking back at two years ago, it seems that an impossibly long amount of time has passed and somehow it feels insufficient, like a number closer to one hundred would be able to better cement the mark you have already made on so many lives.
I remember only a small handful of things vividly. I remember learning from your father that you were a girl when he walked over with you in his arms as if he had already gotten the chance to know you on that short walk, and gave you a name he chose. I remember the full tuft of black hair you were born with, the uncanny resemblance to my side of the family in your face. I remember hearing that you weighed in at just under nine pounds. That you were 21.5 inches long. And that it had seemed so inconceivable. I remember lifting my own hands to float above my now empty belly trying to recreate the measurements. Trying to find ways that it made sense for you to fit in such a small space and yet be here with us an instant later. I remember walking out the slow, revolving doors of the hospital, the silence, an eerie cloud surrounding us, as if personnel should have asked for more information from us, like fingerprints or blood. But instead, no one blinked. All was just as it was supposed to be. You were ours. And we were yours. We buckled you into the car seat for the first time, carefully and mechanically. We ordered sub sandwiches on our way home, the three of us. We ate them on the floor in front of the coffee table, legs crossed, so that we could be at your level as you slept soundly in the same car seat we carried you through the door in.
The rest has become somewhat of a blur; a montage of moments that have made up your life, a collection of beautiful bits and pieces that play in my head like an old film reel, hard to stop or slow down: you in a tiny striped hat that fell down over your forehead. You taking your first bath in a small plastic tub positioned on the kitchen table. Your first Christmas Eve midnight mass, the choir your own personal lullaby. Your miniature fists curled to rest at my collarbone, the TV flickering as you slept. You teetering through a pumpkin patch, the rows of orange fruit appearing life-size. You taking your first consecutive steps, beaming all the way to your daddy, as he sat near the fireplace waiting for you, his arms spread wide to catch you if you stumbled.
But there was so much I didn’t dream of.
Never would I have known then the stark contrast that would become of your thick, brown lashes against your butter-yellow hair. Never would I have known that your head turned to your left, slightly sloped down, your chin touching your chest, is your most comfortable sleeping position when you doze off in the car or in your stroller. Or that your bottom lip sticks out when you are dreaming. Never would I have known that it comforts you to touch at least one of your little feet to something or someone when you sit down to read a book or watch a movie or settle into the couch. Or that it soothes you to rub the softest part of your blanket between your fingers and over your lip at nap-time and when you are ready for bed. Never would I have known that when it’s humid out or after a day at the beach in the summertime or when you are playing in the pool, the ends of your hair twist together to create these beautiful, tiny curls. Never would I have known such a true, honest, laugh, a sound that I have come to look forward to hearing the most. Never would I have known the sharp wit that would be a huge part of your even larger personality. The sense of humor that I thought only came with the maturity of adolescence. Never would I have known then that I would count a toddler amongst my closest, dearest, best friends. That I would really mean it. And that I would hope it would last forever.
There is so much more about you and to you, but I know there that will be even more to come. So, I am blessed to have had these past two years, as short or as long as they may have seemed, with you, Emma Rose, my first child, my daughter, my right-hand lady. And I look forward to continue watching you grow.