My baby girl and I navigate through a long list of errands on a rainy, windy day. Each stop requires unbuckling her car seat and helping her jump down. I hold her soft hand as we walk to each place, listening to her chatter: the dream she had last night, the cold wind, her boots she loves, loves so much, the baby she just saw that is sooo cute. Her hand fits perfectly in mine. She mindlessly grabs my hands after any separation. I cradle her sweet hand and try hard to form an indelible memory that I know will fade, regardless of how hard I try to hold it.
Later that day I grab my middle daughter's hand as we cross the street and then keep it longer than safety requires. She seems very aware that we are holding hands still. She smiles, she lets me keep her hand even though her fingers are barely curving around mine.
Some days later, I am walking with my taller-than-me older daughter. I instinctively grab her hand as we cross the street. Her fingers are longer, thinner and colder than mine. They briefly curve about mine, then quickly let go. Continuing to hold my hand is unthinkable right here in public view.
The moment the sweet little hand fits perfectly, willingly, into mine is a flash. I struggle to remember the other little hands that have held mine. I close my eyes and try to push back the heavy curtains of time. Only fleeting images come back.
I hold onto my last little girl's hand just a little bit tighter.