I am asked if I want to hold her and I offer my arms and cradle the baby. She is tiny and buttery warm. Her eyes are closed and she is new and exquisite. Weightless and yet entirely substantial. I stare at her like a dream. All around me, her parents and family beam like full moons.
A powerful sense of well-being flows over me. A smile arcs across my face. Immediately, instinctively, I begin a gentle sway. I step forward and back. When did I last hold a baby? Could it be when I held my own babies, more than twenty years gone? Much too long ago. Much, much too long.
She opens her eyes to me and I am spellbound. I coo and baby talk. Her mouth does little twists and her dinky hands and feet sway like stems in a breeze. When she begins to fuss I have only one mission: to soothe. To whisper and be tender and there’s a song I remember. Sometimes it works and sometimes only the baby can soothe the baby.
A baby gives me reason to hope. A baby tells me the future matters. And holding a baby can be all that matters, other than being the held baby which greatly matters too. I wonder how my mother held me. I imagine tightly but with one arm only. She had a lot to do with three others still under the age of five.
I didn’t know how much I needed to hold a baby until I held a baby. Another minute more.