Holding On

My eight month old son typically falls asleep in his crib, grabbing my weary hand and pulling it to his tiny chest. Some nights he just holds my hand close; other nights, he wraps his arms and legs around my hand and tucks into the corner of his crib. And I stand there, a prisoner of his sleep ritual. I inventory the dirty dishes and unwashed laundry, and acknowledge that I have things to do beyond standing and listening to his increasingly heavy sighs and murmurs. But just as I go to extricate myself via Chinese acrobatics from his straight-jacket hold, I consider how ephemeral the moment is, how I will never again experience the intoxicating combination of need, defenselessness, and innocence, how every day I come closer to him not needing me like this. It’s inevitable, but there I remain, selfishly absorbing every detail of his face, his gently moving lips, his safari nursery, his firetruck pajamas, opening every sense I have to its fullest capacity in the futile attempt to indelibly etch the vanishing moment in my mind. I can only guess this is what love is, for I know all that will remain, one rueful day in the future, is a vague impression of this fleeting moment.

I stand in the darkness and watch my little boy sleep, and I realize I am now holding onto him.

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