I dreamed of this.
Holding you in the quiet gloaming, your body stretched along the length of my arm, your head tucked against my chest, I’d waltz you around the nursery, humming you songs, patting your back, and telling you all the things we’d do together.
We’d read, I’d say, we’d have a catch. We’d go fishing, just the two of us, and I’d bore the absolute soul out of you by casting the line and telling you each time how the action reminds me of Whitman and his noiseless, patient spider.
We’d do each other’s hair, or what is left of it, paint our nails, hammer things. We’d bake cookies. Race cars. Wreck toys and step on Legos. We’d ride wild horses in the living room, I’d whisper. You’d sit astride my back, and away we’d go.
One day, I’d tell you, we’d get dressed super fancy and go to a nice hotel with other dads and daughters and have a tea and eat cakes and sweets until we grew full and giddy.
But how could I ever have known?
It was just one of a million things I imagined doing with you. In the dark, I’d whisper about our coming adventures together, willing you to sleep, feeling the thrum of your heart against my own, and dreaming of an age when you did more than coo and cry and spit up all over my shoulder.
But I could never have imagined how they’d actually go, how these tiny, imagined adventures would play out. Forgive me. You were too small. I had no idea the promises I was making. I should have told you more.
I should have told you that on some random day when you are 7, we will share a bathroom space, the two of us, and I will brush your hair and you will straighten my tie. I will make a loop out of your puffy dress bow and off we’ll go, holding hands and skipping to the subway.
You will ask me over and over again to watch as you jump over sidewalk squares and to count how many you leaped. You will ask a thousand questions about everything. You’ll ask to race. You’ll quietly hold my hand.
You will grow tired and ask for a ride in my arms, and I will feel your sweet breath on my neck and once again feel the thrum of your beating heart against my own.
And suddenly you’ll see something you have to jump over, and you’ll squirm out of my arms and race along toward new adventures while I walk along behind you, remembering a sleeping baby on an arm and watching the child she has become and thinking of the gossamer thread you fling each time you race away and come back again, and I’ll realize no one could ever have dreamed this good.