In my arms she lays here, bare foot slung up over my shoulder while she nurses, a smudge of coal on her left cheek from where the papa tickled her with his beard and covered her in kisses, her squealing and signing "more" and he, fingers and hands and blue jeans covered in black soot, installing the new coal stove in the kitchen.
I remember last year, a chilly fall day, she was due a week earlier and had not come and with my midwife on notice, I faithfully glugged the slippery oil down to help her come. Next night she did, pink and red and noisy. We could hardly hear ourselves above the hollers. This week she'll be one year old, how time flies in the face of life. Now she is round cheeked and even rounder thighed and particular about doling out affection and hilariously funny when she is over tired, peels of deep belly laughter rolling in waves at the slightest provocation.
I am asked all the time by nervous mothers, expecting their second child, if it is possible to love the second child as much as the first, or will the second child play second best or if I still feel the thrill of new life holding a new babe in arms all these babes later. I've loved nine children in our home now (foster babes included), and have six for keeps for a little while, and I still love and worry endlessly about the ones who left, and still feel light as air and wear an impossible grin when I've found we're expecting another child. Love is a supernatural, not-of-this-earth thing. Love multiplies. It isn't divided or sorted or handed out in portions according to earthly measure. Such is its beauty.
Happy birthday week, Sweet Addie-girl. Happy birthday.