As she holds her child, every mother knows that the moment is fleeting. The days will quickly turn into weeks, and the weeks into months, the months into years. . .
It's been three and a half years since I've held my son in my arms. Three and a half years since I looked into his face, observed his shallow breathing and ultimately watched that breathing come to a halt. Every moment since then I have felt as though I am on a treadmill, set at a speed that I did not choose, tied to the rails so that I cannot escape and I can only keep running, or fall. Ten days rapidly melted into two years and I felt every exhausting step along the way but before I knew it, Eden was on her way. Those two years melted into nine more months, and those nine months have poured into another eight months.
I have an eight month old daughter who can sit up, can try to crawl, can eat solid food, and can, in rare moments, reach for me in the occasional display of dependency. My daughter is strong and independent and as sure as an eight month old little girl can be. When I tuck her into bed at night, she looks at me with a smile, inviting me to leave her alone in her personal space. But every once in a while she whimpers for me, or startles in the night, or we find ourselves away from home and she needs my arms for comfort and I get to rest my chin beside her cheek, hold her tightly and kiss her soft hair and say to her, "I love you. So much." I love my daughter's strong will. I love every part of her. I long for the opportunities to hold her. She was never much for being held.
But in my arms, through my veins, from deep within my heart an even stronger longing pulls at me daily and has for the last three and a half years. Gabriel was also strong, independent and determined. He was just never meant to stay. He wasn't meant to outgrow my arms, he was given to me so that he could be taken away. In a bold juxtaposition beside his "baby" sister, who sits at the top of the growth charts, my tiny baby boy fit perfectly in my arms. His head rested on my chest as though he belonged there, as though we had been made together and in my heart I know that when God made me, He had Gabriel in mind. There's little I wouldn't do today to rest my chin beside his cheek one more time, to hold him tightly, to kiss the bits of his soft blonde hair, and to be able to whisper in his ear, "I love you. So much."
I do not take for granted the privilege of watching my daughter grow every day. She is the light of my life. Still, with every milestone, every accomplishment, I am reminded of what is missing. When I hold her, when my embrace lingers, when my lips stay pressed to her cheeks my heart is offering to her what I wish I could give to Gabriel just one more time.