This weekend we were back at David's grandparents, and this time his aunt was there with her two kids. Her daughter is three and a half, and she was my best buddy.
Everywhere I went, Taylyn was close behind me. When we went to a little fall festival downtown, Taylyn only wanted to hold my hand.
When I brushed my hair in the morning, Taylyn wanted me to brush her hair, and "bread it" (put it in French braids).
When I carried my laptop and text book to the dining room table, she wanted to help. I said that these things were too heavy for her and she said, "I can help carry your pen!" So she carried my pen to the table.
If I left the room when she was distracted, playing with David or with her brother, I could hear her saying, "Where's Auntie Brooke?" and looking for me the moment she realized I was gone.
She shared her princess stickers with me and let me be Belle while she was Snow White.
When I read my book (the Aeneid - for class on Monday), Taylyn read her book (Chicka Chicka Boom Boom). When she finished Chicka Chicka Boom Boom before I finished the Aeneid (go figure), she asked me if she could turn the pages for me!
She'd snuggle up next to me on the couch and say, "Auntie Brooke, I really love you. That's why I'm not shy this time!"
I can't pretend that it wasn't a little exhausting, or that she doesn't shriek like a freaking banshee on occasion, but I still loved playing with her and listening to the funny things she'd say. She was infatuated with Cooper and afraid of Little Mac (as she should be) and she kept calling Mac "that ornery dog."
When David and I were getting ready to walk the dogs on Sunday morning, of course Taylyn wanted to come with us. She ran downstairs to get her jacket and David remarked to me, "Taylyn sure does love you." I nodded, and then I just burst into tears, standing in the kitchen holding the dog leash.
David put his arms around me while I cried, "She's so cute! She just makes me miss our little girl so much. I just want OUR baby girl."
(I managed to pull myself together and wipe the snot off David's shirt before Taylyn got back upstairs with her jacket and tennis shoes.)
I just don't know how this part will ever get easier--this letting go of everything that might have been, everything I hoped and wanted for Eliza. She'll never be a chubby baby crawling across the living room, a laughing toddler on unsteady feet, a wide-eyed three-year-old with two French braids. I have to let go of all these moments that never happened, that are never going to happen. And every time I have to confront that reality, it breaks my heart all over again.
I spent the weekend living breath to breath, trying to enjoy playing "I spy" and "Hide the Thimble" with Taylyn, even while my heart felt so heavy and my throat was thick with the sadness of missing Eliza. It was exhausting. It brings me to tears again even as I type this.
Of course I miss my baby girl. But the thing is, I also miss three-year-old Eliza. I miss Eliza starting kindergarten. Learning to read. Joining Girl Scouts. Playing soft ball (or not playing, if she took after me...). Learning to swim. Taking gymnastics. Doing homework. Playing a musical instrument. Begging for her own cell phone. I miss her as a baby, but I also, already, really miss her all grown up.
All these things that will never happen, all these moments we'll never have with her. I am her mom, and I have to miss her entire life.
Oh, you guys. I miss my baby. And I miss everything she might have been.