It’s a cold night in the middle of July, and I’m putting you to sleep. We’re in the grips of a ridiculously harsh winter and we’ve all been battling chesty, painful coughs and leaky noses the last few weeks – me, you, your dad. At this moment in time I’m longing for the feel of the sun on my skin. Craving it the way I do a piece of chocolate. My mouth is practically watering, my body quivering. I have my eyes closed and I’m sitting on the floor with my head resting against the frame of your bed.
As I listen to your breathing fall into a steady rhythm, I relax and my mind wanders. It takes me back to last summer – specifically a day we had gone to the beach just you and me. Before you came I used to love the beach and I guess I still do, but it’s just so much harder now – all the bags, all the supplies we need to take, all the mess. The whole process overwhelms me and so we’d only gone a grand total of two times that summer – something I regret now, as I shiver through the current grey gloom.
I’d worn a plain black one-piece bathing suit. You were in a little one-piece too – one that covered the tops of your arms and legs to protect the delicate, doughy skin your father and I so love to kiss and tickle. It was pink with strawberries printed all over. Your favourite hat sat atop your head of bronze curls – floppy and wide brimmed, with a picture of Minnie Mouse on the front. You were petrified of the water - it took me several attempts to convince you to come in with me. When you finally agreed, you wanted to take your dummy AND your comforter with us. It took another five minutes of gentle coaxing before you put your squishy hand in mine and let me lead you into the water sans comforting agents – this was a huge win for us both. Of course, once you were in the water you wouldn’t get out. I wish a similar scenario had played out the first time I fed you broccoli.
As my mind scans this 6-month-old memory I see the clear blue water – so beautifully shallow for hundreds of metres. I see the golden yellow sand and remember how it made its way into every single compartment of the bag I had brought with us. I remember – no – I can feel the heat of the sun – it was so hot that day that the water in the bottle I brought with us was warm in a matter of minutes. I remember the pink in your little cheeks and how the salt water dried on my skin in pretty, intricate patterns. And I remember how much I smiled that day, with you, in the sun, on the sand, in the sea. And then, back at home, in the bath – washing off the day’s adventure.