Grasping at water. 

This is the closest I’ll ever be to you.

I remember laying on my side, rubbing my planetary belly, looking out the window into the night sky, speaking to Nora in my womb. It was the closest she would ever be to me physically yet, even then, separate and unfathomable. Her own heart pattering away, her own body fluttering then rumbling under my hands as I coaxed an elbow away from my ribs, her own mind and dreams occurring deep within my body as she settled to sleep.

Those cheeks. Those early days of co-sleeping, no sleeping, and the blur of breastfeeding.

She’s six now. Now we have movie nights and slumber parties with just the two of us. She asks for treats. She asks for her favorite shows. She sneaks dolls under the covers. She asks me questions that have been burning and forming to be kept until these nights. She asks for stories to be told as I rub her back to sleep and she holds my hand so tightly as we spoon together.

I lay here in the dark, thinking of how long I waited for her and how hard fought the battles within yourself are silently waged as a mother. I think about that world within me where she started and so many false starts ended despite my hopes. The recurring nightmares of swimming in the dark of night, grasping through the currents, to grab an arm or a leg of a baby before it fell from my grasp. Even now, I have those dreams but now I’m dragging my hand through tall grass that becomes locks of hair as she falls away from me. 

My body jerks awake and I touch her gently to check her, remind myself it was a dream, and reassure my anxiety that it’s baseless and unwanted. The thought passes that she’s a warm curve against the belly she once occupied. That the elbows and knees still dig into me but externally now. That the thoughts and dreams are still as distant from my own but she’s young enough she still seeks my embrace. The words roll on their side with me as I try to get comfortable on the edge of the bed that I’ll have to myself for the night.

I’ll always want to be close to you.

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