I know it sounds cliché, but I’ve loved you since the day you were born.
I remember driving to the hospital that wintery afternoon. It was the day after my winter prom and Chris and I sang “When My Baby Calls My Name” the whole way there. The lyrics weren’t at all fitting, but it didn’t matter. The song had the word baby in the title, and we were going to see you. Small, wrinkly, fragile you. I remember wondering if this – this mixture of awe and anxiety – is what love felt like.
We bonded a lot in those early days. You listened to me ramble as we walked the streets of Kitsilano each evening. You reminded me that a blade of grass can be the most fascinating thing in the world. And you were by far the best cuddler I’d ever met.
But then, as so often happens, we went our separate ways – you to England and me to Montreal. I’d almost forgotten those evenings spent with you in the snuggly, so dependent, so expectant of my love until one night last year.
It was 10pm, and like every other night, your parents and I moved through familiar motions. Your mom checked the doors were locked, your dad put the dishes away, and I walked up the stairs to wake you to use the toilet. It was routine: up the stairs, over the creaky floor board, a flick of the hallway light.
That night, as I stood in the door frame and saw you tangled in the sheets of your parents’ bed, it all seemed to stop. I could see your chest in the light from the hallway rising and falling in simple rhythm. Your fists clutched the sheets gently, your lips slightly parted, formed a soft smile. And for one brief moment, I entered your world.
There were castles, and space stations, and robots. Every wall was for climbing, every railing for acrobatics. There were no time limits for computer games, mazes covered every surface and mixed-up-cereal was in abundance. It was a world full of hope and possibility, creativity and happiness. It was a world full of you.
As I lifted you from the bed, your arms wrapped around my neck and I remembered those days of cuddling when you were a baby. I so desperately wanted to hold you forever. To tell you that you’ve taught me how to dream again. To tell you that I now know why I’m here — to shower you with love, for all that you are and all that you teach me everyday.
But I didn’t. Instead I manoeuvred you into the bathroom, I held you steady so you didn’t fall over in your half-awake daze, and then I tucked you back into your bed and kissed you goodnight.
As you grow older I know there will be less moments of cuddling, of vulnerability, of tenderness. But know that whatever happens, I’ve loved you since the day you were born, and I’ll love you as long as I live.