I was sitting in the doorway to my bedroom, just inside the threshold where the carpet began and the hardwoods ended. My legs spread in a vee. Clara was standing between them holding onto my shirt, and I was, as usual, trying to convince her to let go. To attempt to balance herself for a few seconds. She understood what I wanted, but was being characteristically stubborn. Defiance sparkling in her pink face, as we went through our familiar routine. I removed one chubby hand from my shirt, and she giggled and grabbed hold with the other. All the while bubbling up belly-laughs. Incapable of resisting that delicious sound, I was giggling as well.
And then with a look that said clearly "Look. I could do it if I wanted to" she let go. She stood frozen in time for half a second, then took a step. And then half of another before she toppled to the ground and crawled away delighted with herself.
I gasped. A first step. Elation immediately filled me like a balloon and then, just as quickly, a bit wheezed back out again, deflating.
A first step.
My last child's first step.
Excitement and sadness had a little cat fight in my chest. Excitement won, hands down.
But it was left somewhat subdued by the vision of time passing before my eyes. Like the leaves just starting to turn vibrant shades outside my window. A breathtaking harbinger of the end of a season.
I exhaled. And began clapping and "whooping" happy cheers for Clara. She laughed and clapped in response. Then I scooped her up and ran downstairs to show her father.