The other day Juliette was browsing through old photos on the computer when she happened upon a short video we took of Raphael’s first birthday. I sat with now 2 year old Raphael on my lap and we watched it together.
We watched the family gather around Baby Rafey in his high chair and sing to him. We watched Baby Rafey reach for the candle on the cupcake. We watched big sister remove the cupcake wrapper and hand Baby Rafey his very first chocolate treat. We watched Baby Rafey hesitate, but then take an enormous bite — face first into the frosting. At that point, Big Boy Raphael on my lap broke into a wild grin, living the joyful moment all over again.
And me? I cried, of course.
Juliette laughed at my emotionalism, but I don’t expect her to understand. How could a young girl understand a feeling as deep and as conflicted as this? How could she know how much I loved that baby, and that he is gone forever. How could she know how much I loved that one small moment — a tiny snap shot, a fading flash in our family history — and that it’s gone forever too. How could she know how much I ache when I watch my 2 year old’s innocent joy in seeing himself … because in the same moment that I see it I know that this too is a fleeting thing.
After a family outing this evening, I was feeling wiped out. I sat on the couch and dreaded the inevitable diaper changes, the nagging, and the pajama-ing that lay ahead. It was right then that Raphael climbed into my lap and touched my face.
“I want to kiss you, Mama,” he said.
“On the wips,” he said firmly, holding my face tenderly in his small, pudgy hands.
And kiss me he did. On the wips. I don’t have a video, but I plan to keep that slurpy, boyish kiss. I will hold it close to my heart. And I will not let go.