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.