The last of the maple leaves have fallen and the backyard is fire and ash. Through the bony branches we can see the pond where the egrets lived. In summer we huddled at the window, watching them swoop across the verdant branches, stopping for a moment to look right us, it seemed.
Now you wonder where they’ve gone, where they might be hiding, if they’ll be back next summer.
Winter is near. The sun goes down early. The morning is cold. When we walk to school I can sometimes see your breaths ghosting out of your mouths.
Winter reminds me. My time with you is brief, impermanent. In much less than a lifetime, you will be men, out on your own, without me.
This is the thing I always come back to as parent, as your mother. And as much as I am a mother in mourning (from the moment they cut the cord I was), I am excited for you to immerse yourself in the world outside my arms.
But. These brief few years when I am yours and you are mine. They are everything.
I was your first breath. Your first touch. Your first food. Your first cry. Your first hurt. Your first laugh. Your first fear. I was your first love.
I hope I have done right by you. I hope I have shown you trust. I hope you will know, when life hurts (it will), there is always mercy. I hope you will remember me then, somehow. The buried scent of my skin, the far off boom of my heart.
I’m glad I don’t have to break it to you now, how short our time is together. Our time like this, when you fall asleep with my hair against your face, when I’m the only one you want as the tears start to burn behind your eyes.
You wouldn’t understand now—all the many nights we will one day spend apart, you with your legs wrapped around a lover, then your own child.
No. Let’s keep it like this. Our bodies rising and falling in the big bed as the first snow of the season falls outside our window.
Let’s open the curtains and let in the harsh winter light. Let’s forget the future and live here now, as though you will never not be mine.