Chloe – a Love Story

Chloe and Auntie Kat

Chloe and Auntie Kat

This is probably the most personal thing I’ve ever posted on here so far. I’ve just come back from a wonderful  week in Toronto visiting my sister, her husband and their daughter, Chloe, who is now nearly two.   I wrote the piece below on the plane home, mostly in tears.  If you’re after something funnier and less sentimental, there’s always my list of Good Things and Bad Things about Canada from my last visit instead.

I am a big girl, and I am going to be brave. I watch your little pink boots march away across the departure hall and tears sting my eyes. But I am not going to cry. Not when you can see.

When Mama turns you round to wave again, you will not see the shiny beads gathering or know that my lips are pressed so tightly together I can taste blood. Mama holds your hand, her camel-coloured grown-up coat brushing against the lilac puff of your snow-suit.

I watch your bright pink hat bobble away across the vaulted concourse, feeling sorry for Baby as her plastic feet drag on the concrete floor. I walk backwards, pushing my suitcase behind me, waving desperately until you both hang right and vanish through the double doors.

I can still smell your hair.

And then I will cry. I will howl and wail, hoisting my breath inside me in shallow, hiccupy gasps. I will cling to the long-suffering man beside me, snuffling into his chest and pulling on his collar, lost in the grief of separation. Travellers stare, although the check-in staff have seen it all before. We pilfer serviettes from a coffee stand. I stand there, head tilted up as he wipes my face, just as I did for you a few minutes ago.

Later I sit in a bar, drinking too much white wine and eating what I swear is my last plate of chips for at least a year. I send your Mama a text, thanking her for everything, and hoping to see her again soon. Deep down she will know that I’m really talking about you. And I cry a bit more.

We fly over your native land, perforated with lakes and threaded with rivers. Villages and towns sparkle like stars strung along the galaxy of the Gulf of St Lawrence. Tim Horton’s coffee. Butter tarts. Romni Wool – the best yarn store in Ontario. A child’s life captured in six-month snapshots and shopping trips. We chase the sunset round the world as time races past us.

You are five weeks old, asleep on my chest. I change your nappies and walk you round the park for hours while Mama finally manages to have a bath. You are nine months old, balancing a plastic mixing bowl on your head, chubby arms waving in delight while your face flames red with incoming teeth.

You are a year and a half, hiding behind Mama’s legs and whispering my name in my absence. We finally bond in the paddling pool – you in your first swimsuit and me with my skirt hitched into my knickers, wriggling our hands to make bubbles in the cool water.

And now you are nearly two. For one delicious week I blow raspberries on your belly and make you Play-Doh cats. You can talk. You can sing. You can count. I am so proud of you it hurts. And I know it’s only going to get better from here.

Perhaps this is it. Maybe I am too old, or just too selfish, to produce a cousin for you. Maybe I can’t. Maybe I don’t want to. And maybe I am too scared to even try. Maybe a perfect day only dawns once.

15 responses to “Chloe – a Love Story

  1. awww *hugs* kat xx

  2. what beautiful words, i know exactly how you feel. i wish i could say it gets easier but…
    methinks that cousin for chloe can’t come soon enough. {{hugs}} x

  3. *sniff*
    Lovely words. She’ll remember you, and she’ll be delighted to see you next time, no matter when that is. And you never know what the future holds xxx

    • 🙂
      I think it has made a real difference chatting to her over Skype – she recognised me straight away this time, when last time it took her a week to “warm up”. And apparently now she taps on the computer wanting to talk to Auntie Kat, and can’t understand why I’m not always in there!

  4. oh how cute – tapping away wondering where you are! sounds like you need to get breeding 😉

  5. Glad Pickled Weasal pointed me to this post! We just did this same airport separation last week but from the other side of the coin… My kids and I live in the UK and we visit my family in the US as often as we can, but it’s not easy saying goodbye knowing that my parents miss the kids desperately when we’re not around. My kids are 2 and 4 and it does get easier as stronger bonds are formed each time we visit… but also harder because they are old enough to miss them too. Beautiful post 🙂

    • Thank you 🙂
      At least Chloe was too small to really understand what was going on (she just looked a bit confused). I can’t imagine how hard it’s going to be if she starts crying too.
      I’m not going to see her again until September, unless I manage to fit in a sneaky visit in early summer.

  6. Wow – I’m left feeling a little mixed up by your beautiful words. I can’t decide if they are happy or sad. The best way I can describe the feeling is bittersweet. Your love for your niece and sister is so inspiring. With metta, Sarah.

  7. Aww Kat – this made me cry! Hope you are doing ok now. Airport goodbyes are awful aren’t they? We live in New Zealand with our 17 month old daughter and our family (her grandparents) are in the UK, so we’ve had our fair share of tears in departure lounges…. Your niece will definitely remember you – keep skyping her. Peregrine

    • Thank you – I am feeling better now but still wish I was over there… NZ to the UK is a hell of a long flight to make with a baby!

  8. Pingback: Yarn porn « You do too much

  9. Pingback: Extreme knitting – Chloe’s cardigan « You do too much

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