Before I Go

"Edelweiss, edelweiss, every morning, you greet me." I haven't sung this in a while. E signs "baby" and says, "Ba?" Yes, darling, do you remember?

She climbs onto me and rests her head on my arm so that I have to cradle her, so I can rock her. She's getting heavy. "Baby," she signs again. 

Most days, she resists the nap and the lullaby that precedes it. She's discovering toddlerhood; she's just learned to walk, but she wants to run. She's starting to forget to reach for my hand. She refuses it when I offer it.

But, today, she's asking for a song. This song. When I start a different tune, she signs "baby." When I stop singing, two little hands come together with fingers closed: "Again. Again." Perhaps she senses that today is different and I won't be there when she wakes up. Work will take me away from her for today. I'll be back tonight, but that's a few hours later than she's used to—than I'm used to. 

Maybe as long as I'm singing, we can both pretend she's still a baby. Maybe if she were still a baby, I wouldn't have the heart to leave. 

"Blossom of snow, may you bloom and grow, bloom and grow forever." But not today while I'm away from you. Just for today, stay exactly as you are, not a millimeter taller. Don't learn a new word. Don't walk any faster. Don't be a minute older than you are right now. (Later that night, I see the tiny tips of two new bottom teeth. So willful, this child.)

I keep singing, nursing and rocking her. She doesn't fall asleep. I don't mind.

(Originally posted on Hi!, a wonderful writer's community. )