After fixing her hair and emptying a new bottle of hairspray-after the breakfast and the flowers and the friends and the family, it was just she and I alone. The sunlight through the windows landed on the sofa where we both lay quiet, and when she fell asleep, I watched her long body, her big girl, her young woman-my one and only beloved child. I watched the ringlets in her hair, that with a supply of chemicals and a scalding hot iron, we so painstakingly made together; they somehow looked resigned now, draped across her shoulder.

I watched her poorly painted toes and her perfect pink nails, and when she stirred I snuggled up behind her the way I used to when she was born. Only now our bodies together were a variation of the way they once were. Back-to-back we slept when she was new, and back then, each time I woke and rolled over, I couldn't believe the gift waiting there for me, again.

This morning, as she rested her long legs and her feet sore from high heels, I pressed my mouth against the pale skin on her neck and breathed in. But all I could smell was hairspray, and I smiled at the recollection of only a few short hours ago, when I treated each curl just hoping they would hold.

I tried again to find her scent but couldn't, and as we lay together in the heat, under the click and swoosh of the ceiling fan, I whispered, "You're my favorite person."

"You, too," she whispered her reply with ease, then lifted her hand to rest it on mine.

I didn't love you better back then, I thought to myself. But I miss holding you in my arms. You weren't more beautiful than you are right now, but I miss freely kissing your face. I wasn't happier when you were small, I just long to sing to you like I did-and watch your eyes close, and see your hands the moment you slip into sleep, and smell your sweet baby skin, and believe that time will stand as still as those perfect curls we so painstakingly, and so joyfully made together.

March 31, 2012