The last time
I have a photograph of my eldest daughter on the day she was born. She is just minutes old. Her tiny head is nestled into the palm of my hand; her tiny body resting along my forearm.
I have photos of me holding my newborn twins; one girl, one boy; one on each arm.
I have photos of me holding my youngest son on the very day he took his first breath.
I have photos of me holding all four of them at various stages of their lives. Holding them at the zoo, at the theme pack, at the beach. There are photos of me holding them with their favourite toy or their favourite pet. There are photos of me holding them at Christmas and at birthdays. There are photos of them each in my arms, on my back and on my shoulders.
But there is a photo missing; a photo that would have captured a moment that — to me at least — would have been every bit as important as any trip to the beach or to the park.
Worst of all, I actually have no memory of that moment at all because neither I nor they realised what had just happened.
There was a day when I put down each of my four children and never picked them up again. Never.
Three of my children are now in their 30s. The fourth soon will be. Two of them are bigger than me. I won’t be picking any of them up again any time soon.
I wish there had been some sign that I was putting them down for the last time; some clue that they would never again ride on my shoulders, ride piggyback, or fall asleep on my chest.
If I had known it was to be the last time, I would’ve held on tighter and just a bit longer.