This week has been a blur, largely because this week really began on Saturday, or maybe it’s that last week never ended. Either way, all I know is that on Tuesday night I was flipping through photos and said to Sean, “Hey, I know I’m a little late, but I’m going to make this my Throwback Thursday photo on Instagram before we start Downton Abbey.”
He smiled. I smiled back thinking that he was getting gooey about the photo. It was on our friend Paul’s sailboat the summer after Briar was born.
“Babe, it’s Tuesday.”
“It’s what? How can it be Tuesday? You mean that tomorrow isn’t Friday? That…” I trailed off and realized that he was right.
These 9+ years of parenting and 10+ years of owning a business have been a lesson in how mercilessly fast and unmanageably slow time can pass.
This photo, my #TBT picture, is a glitch in the system. It is, as the girls would say, “Safe! You can’t tag me, I’m on safe.” I know that time has passed, nearly a decade, and yet if you could access my emotions and sense of touch, you’d know the temperature of Briar’s skin as a baby, the way even on the hottest day her pale skin would feel cool. You’d see, as I can, the way the shiny trail of her drool would always snake down the left side of her chest. The sound of her guttural laugh as I’d dab in her armpit, “Let’s get that little bit,” I’d say only making her laugh harder. You’d know the way my entire being released when her head would loll my way, for her slightly open-mouthed kisses, her lips fluffy and the tiniest bit wet. The scent of pear would float before you; the taste of pears just past ripe was so pleasing to her that she’d kick her legs; her breath always smelled faintly of their juice.
This picture lifts the lines from my face and the aches from my heart and sets me squarely in that first year of revelation, a religion that I could finally believe in without question. Mother and child, the promise with each dawn, and the gratitude that came like the most comforting quilt each night. She is mine and I am hers. I learned the sting of true terror and relief that rocks me in places I didn’t know I had.
The water on the day of this picture was calm, gorgeous as ever. I remember thinking that writing about the sky or the clarity of water would never again be the same. Her eyes a blue so pale and shimmery that they seemed to reflect icicles at dawn.
She had a tiny hemangioma on her forehead. People asked if we were going to take her to a surgeon, but there was no medical risk. I shook my head. It looked like a wild strawberry had picked her as its sunny meadow; it was gone by her second Christmas.
Just after Sean took this picture she leaned into me, her hands holding either side of my Red Sox cap, her forehead touching mine beneath the brim.
“Aw-mom. Aw-mom. Aw-mama.”
We sat together, skin touching and murmurs and coos linking together like wildflowers on a garland, blossoms and stems. She took to the water and some days as her 9.5 year old face looks up at me, I can hear the sounds of the water lapping at the side of the boat. My heart skips a beat at how quickly it’s gone, but then rests as I realize that no amount of time or heartache can ever dull the magic in her eyes or the memory of that day on the lake.