Every time I pass back over the mountains, he has morphed. He is no longer a staring, squirming infant, or he is no longer a babbling, giggling baby. But this time, I arrived to find a walking, clever, independent toddler. This strange child, because he is now a child and not just a baby, plays games and rides his four wheeler in the living room and holds his own bottle as he falls asleep. He does as you do, tries to make you laugh, and knows exactly what he likes and what he doesn’t.
Time is ridiculously subjective. Just a few days nestled in the snowy valley of the mountains, and it lifted and rejuvenated my heart as much as a full week on any beach.
She tested hundreds of recliners as I chased his wobbly steps through the maze of chairs and couches: I’d throw her a nod of approval or point to which fabrics I liked before running after him again. We gazed at cowboys singing country-flavored Christmas carols while munching on pulled-pork and laughing off our chairs. My father’s smile, one of the genuine ones and not the strained type I have seen far too often lately, as I followed orders and shyly tapped on the unfamiliar shoulder of a black coat. The unforgettable joy of waking up and rolling over to see my favorite face bouncing and smiling at me. Juicy eggs and Donald Trump hair in the bathtub. Fondu and crispy peppers with the most elite around us. But my priceless favorite: trudging back to the car, with him exhausted and heavy in my arms, smiling at the glistening world around us. I wrestled him into the car seat alone, and as I growled and knawed at the furry beanie in his outstretched hand to his continuous laughter, I realized I would do anything – absolutely anything – for this tiny human.