I notice K, toes tangled in the mosquito netting, her face veiled and obscured by its wrinkles. I’m watching her kick, as she usually does, trying to get the netting off. She hasn’t yet reached out and grabbed it and pulled, no, not yet, but she will. I only put it over her because she was asleep and wouldn’t know, wouldn’t fuss with it. That and I had been bit by three mosquitoes already and had swatted away others.
Ah, now, she has pulled it away. Her face clear, her toes still entangled. She smiles back at me, her two teeth showing and then hiding again. She looks up at the filtered sunlight through the pear tree at the leaves that shimmer in a whisper of a breeze. Nine months.
Nine months in just eight days. So adept with her hands, so adapt at sitting and moving. I see what her brother never did, probably couldn’t have done had he reached nine months. I flit between this, this seeing my girl, really seeing my girl just for what she is, who she is, and seeing in my girl what her brother was, what he was not, what he will never be. I see gratitude and longing. Delight and regret.
I see health in chunky cheeks and legs, strong limbs, fat little paws. I watch her wonder. She’s watching her foot, feeling the texture of the netting, wiggling the toes. She is serious and then that smiles lights up her face again, her dimples pop.
I will stop writing, put this down, away for now. I’ll pull the netting off her foot before she gets frustrated. I’ll pick her up and get another smile. I’ll bring her inside and make some lunch, because she is on the verge of hunger though she doesn’t know it yet, but it will come upon her suddenly and it doesn’t do to make her wait for lunch.
I wrote this several years ago as an exercise when my big girl was a baby. I had forgotten about this day, this quiet moment with her, but it came back to me clearly when I stumbled up on the file.