In the weeks before you were born, the temperatures dipped colder than they had in 1400 days or nights. Wind chills barreled in at -35'. People did not move about much. But you. Warm inside me, more perfectly comfortable than perhaps you will ever be again, you shifted and rolled and trembled and swayed. I sat on a Saturday morning with my feet up and my hands pressed against the sides of my stomach, contemplating the millimeters of skin, space, and time that separated us, for now. You were coming soon, any day or night. Barefoot and short sleeved, I did not care about the cold, thought only of the way I would come to know your familiar weight in a different place, hot and milky in my arms.
Now you are a year old.
This has been the coldest winter in twenty years, let alone 1400 days: wind chills at -45', school called off en masse, the outside world a frozen pane of white and gray and blue. I am not wearing short-sleeve shirts or going barefoot. The rings on my fingers slip, hang loose, and often when I am alone, driving here or walking there, I am so thoroughly chilled that I shake. I stuff my hands into my coat pockets, and sometimes, when the wind stops for just a moment, I notice how I've pressed my palms against my stomach, like I used to.
Because you are a year old now, a full outside-world-year.
It is cold out, baby. It is bitterly, bitterly cold. And this kind of cold will certainly come again in your lifetime. But we are northern people. The wind is music. We read poetry in ice crystals. We see white, and think: peace. We walk among the frost-covered blades of last year's grass, under a sky that is all breath, and it is a kind of baptism, I think, a kind of bone-deep purification. I come in from that place of being blown clean. I walk through the front door, through miles and millimeters of space and time. And just as my body warmed you for those months, those years of you waiting to be, I am the one waiting now, reaching. And you are the one, gathering me up, pressing your warm cheek to mine.
Thank you, Elliot, for choosing me. A life changing-year, and such joy.