Julia stretches out beside her on the rug in the book room. She talks to her small sister, she takes one finger and taps gently on Nora’s collarbone and Nora just laughs. I watch this moment, my first and my last, twenty years of mothering in one place and I watch this moment. Breathe it in.
I remember Julia’s first laughs. I was getting ready for work and she was lying on my bed, smiling at me as I bustled around. I had her socks in my hand. I went over to her and talked to her for a second, reveling in those sweet smiles. I took the sock and ran it across her nose, which always made her smile wider. She laughed. I melted. I did it 100 times that morning, loving that sweet laughter. I was late for work. But even as a young mother, I knew that moment was one to memorize.
When Aubrey laughed, she was still a little butterball with tons of black hair. Chase, a round faced ball of sheer joy- he laughed early and often. Lila’s laugh was so infectious that the whole household stopped to revel in it. Claire’s laugh came late after months of colicky fussing and when it did, our hearts just stopped.
Now Nora joins the ranks, adds another set of “firsts” to my career. She is my last, the last of the firsts and my heart breaks a little bit over that but is mostly just filled with the joy that I am here to witness these firsts, to witness the miracles.
I am here to see her smile. She is here to smile. I am here to hear her giggles, she is here to giggle. We are here. We are here together.
So often my thoughts take me back to those moments, the moments when I went in for surgery, so afraid. When I woke up, tubed and confused but somehow at peace. When I held Nora the first time, when I had to go back to the hospital. Night after night in various hospital rooms…the pain I’m still in…the exhaustion I can’t describe, this painful bone deep weariness. Five months out and I struggle in mind, heart and body, struggle daily to take one step forward and two steps back. (Sometimes even more when I overdo it. Which I always do.) Five months of pain and weariness, soul battle scarred and tired…
But these moments, these firsts, this baby’s smiles and laughter…it’s worth it. I wouldn’t have missed Nora’s smile, Nora’s laughter for the world.
I’m so grateful that I didn’t have to.
That’s enough for today.