Losing My Grip On You

Dear Michael,

I miss holding you as a baby.

In those first days and weeks and months of your life, I kept you in my arms day and night. Your skin felt so smooth. I would bring your face toward mine and you would look me right in the eyes.

Hey, little guy, I would say.

Who are you? you probably thought. Are you who I think you are?

Your head was so round, your arms and legs so rubbery. You felt like a living doll. I would press my cheek to your cheek. You would burble and gurgle and squirm, your head bobbling, your lips so shiny, your eyes so wide, seeing the world for the first time.

I miss all that. I miss how much you needed me. No one in my life had ever needed me that much before. You needed to be fed and dressed and cleaned and laid into your crib and comforted. I felt so important.

I would give you a bath in our kitchen sink. I filled the sink with warm water made sudsy with soap, little bubbles forming here and there and popping. I’d dip you in up to your waist.

Wait, your face said. What’s this? A new sensation, methinks.

You would slop at the water, splashing and giggling. Your skin gleamed with the moisture, and you felt as sleek and slippery to the touch as a seal.

I miss all that, too. I miss being so important to you, representing so much of your life. It’s selfish of me. I know that now. It was what you might call the selfishness of selflessness.

In those moments with you, I could think of nothing but you. In those first days, holding you and caring for your every need took me out of myself. Just as I was all-important to you, so were you to me. Your dependence on me as I held you was so absolute, so non-negotiable.

I fed you or you starved.

I cleaned you or you stayed dirty.

I dressed you or you went naked.

We shared the most intimate connection, tender beyond belief, all sense of sight and sound and texture and touch heightened to the point of a hyper-reality that bordered on hallucination.

If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll get to do it all again someday. Maybe I’ll get the opportunity to hold another baby I can call my own.

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