“Oh! There it is! One of her canine teeth finally came through!”

I am changing your diaper on the passenger seat before we head out of town. The service was beautiful and emotional and I am feeling so much as we prepare to head home. Your older sister sat and held my hand most of the time and told her Pa she loved him whenever he started to get choked up. You missed the entire thing—it was past nap time so your Dada took you on a drive. I was thankful, but I missed you.

You were busy, though, resting so one of those terrible teeth you’ve been working on for something like six months could finally emerge. I look down at you squirming in your black dress and you suddenly seem so much older. You look up at me and exclaim, “All done! All done! All done!” as I finish up.

This is how it goes—these things I get caught up thinking will last forever and sometimes require too much effort—they come to an end. You will not remember your Mama’s Grandmommy, who shared your middle name and championed more causes and big ideas than any other person I know personally. As I grieve, I realize deep down I believed she would never go. She took her death sentence of a month or two and turned it into years. She was super human somehow, and I had time to figure out how to have a consistent relationship with her in the overwhelm of new motherhood when many of our theories seemed to clash on the surface.

I hold your twenty-something pound body, warm and full of vitality, to my chest and smell your hair before I strap you back into your seat, where you dance most of the drive home. I love you, Reed Camille.



“I want to say, ‘Goodbye,’ to Grandmommy there!”

You are sitting on the bathroom counter, watching me quickly slap color into my head before your little sister notices we left the kitchen and demands that I hold her again. The funeral is tomorrow, and I figure my purple henna hair is a little inappropriate.

I am not sure how to respond, but you move on before I can try.

”Are you painting your hair brown, Mama?”

”Yes, baby. The purple was a little silly.”

”Yeah, it was.”

You look down at your dangling feet as I drop a big blob of dye.

”Oops. Oh, it landed on the towel. That was funny. I don’t want it to get on me.”

”It won’t. I am almost done. I forgot I had short hair when I mixed this—this isn’t going to take nearly as long as last time.”

”I love you, Mama. I like watching you paint your hair.”

”I love you, Edie girl. I like you, too.”



You are still in your Christmas pajamas and it is after 3 o’clock. I am making one last attempt at walking you to sleep in the late afternoon light of the master bedroom. Your feet dangle out away from my body now as I cradle you against me like the baby I swear you were just moments ago. Your mouth hangs open on my breast and your eyes roll back, and then finally flutter closed.

”I have to poooooop!”

Your older sister sprints past us and flicks on the bathroom light as you whip your head up to investigate the excitement over my shoulder. I stop mid-dance and decide getting upset isn’t worth it—you will just skip your nap today and we will all survive.

”I’m tinkling. Now I’m pooping. Oh, that was a funny noise!”

You are sitting on the floor of the bathroom now, watching your sister relieve herself. Neither of you feel a bit of shame—sometimes she even appreciates your support. She waves at you from the toilet and you lean forward. I wonder if you are considering trying it out yourself soon. Either way, you clearly admire her and think she is hilarious.

”Wipe me, please, Mama!”

You race me for the toilet paper—your current favorite mess to make. You love to unravel it and then try to fix it before coming to get me. “Uh oh!” you say, and point back to the bathroom, your eyes wide in a pretend panic.

”It’s okay!” I tell you, as I do multiple times a day. “We can fix it.”



I tuck the two inch auburn curl into a Ziploc bag, willing it not to fall apart. You are nearly two months past your fourth birthday and I have just trimmed the tiniest bit of your hair for the first time--you didn't have much of it until a year or two ago. You stood on your stool in front of the kitchen sink, peeling a hardboiled egg as I combed it all onto your back, and then combed it again and again before that one snip. It is Sunday afternoon, before the big weekly house clean, and there are dirty dishes piled on the counter and sticky floors beneath my feet. This is the only time of day the sun lights up this part of the house, and your hair looks like it has about a hundred different colors in it here in front of the window. Your Minnie Mouse shirt is too small but you dressed yourself and we aren't getting out in the cold today, so it's okay. 

I expected myself to cry, and maybe I would have if I had planned it out and built up a little anticipation. Another ending, another beginning--isn't that the broadest rhythm of mothering? I got a drastic hair cut two weeks ago and you have been asking me to cut yours since then, but I didn't put anything on the calendar. Instead I started the day by shopping for funeral outfits for later this week, came home to you watching your father cut snowflakes from paper and asked you on a whim if I could trim your hair real quick. We've spent the last two days discussing death together since your great grandmother passed Friday morning, and you suddenly look like a much more mature version of yourself. It was time.

You jump from the stool to offer an egg to your sister, your remaining curls now evenly bouncing behind you, but she mistakes your gesture for an invitation to play chase and runs across the living room with a wide grin showing off the gap in her front teeth. She pumps her left arm when she gets going fast and lets out a shriek of joy.

Endings and beginnings, and oh, these moments between them.