I stole a moment yesterday. Tucked into the crook of my arm, the baby looked up at me with a bit of confusion in those coffee-cream eyes. But I stole her away and sneaked into the nursery, settled us in the sinking leather chair, and hid away from the world. She squirmed and squiggled, tired yet feeling that pinch in her tummy that kept her from comfort. So we rocked and patted and burped and soon enough, things were set to rights.
A familiar feeling rose inside of me, the urge to breathe deep of her baby-smell, to kiss her cheeks, and sing quiet lullabies. Singing doesn't come easy to me. I fight it because it isn't my strength, but tenderness overwhelmed and even if I couldn't sing to her, I hummed and held her close and whispered how beautiful and sweet she was.
We rocked in the dark, just her and me. Conversations drifted through the half-open door but we were invisible. I hummed. She settled. Now and then, a shadow passed by or someone looked around the corner but I hoarded my moment and brushed her cheek with the back of my finger. So small, but growing so fast. After a time, people said their goodbyes, but still we rocked—just her and me.
A little face peered 'round the corner, dark and sweet and sleepy-eyed. I beckoned with my free arm and she clambered up into my lap. She curled into my chest, her head against my collarbone. Her baby sister was wrapped in one arm and her in the other, and something shifted in my heart. I kissed their heads, over and over, and though I felt embarrassed by it, I let my tears slip down my cheek because I couldn't let go of either girl to bother wiping tears away.
An aching cry welled in my throat. How I had missed them! I whispered, "I love you," and a little voice whispered back, "I wuv you..." And that skewed wrongness moved and broke and my heart thumped again.
I set the baby in her cradle and marveled at the depth of beauty in her skin. I hugged her big sister close and kissed and kissed and kissed her cheek. As my husband pulled away from their house, I waved to my little niece, and though they were turned away from us, she watched from her mother's shoulder and waved back. In that stolen moment of time, I saw them and they saw me. And it was perfect.