There isn’t much that tickles my taste buds with bittersweet longing quite like the flavor of passing time. Especially when it comes to my children.

Over the course of a week, I’d noticed a few of my daughter’s shirts hugging her a little too tightly, a sliver of bare belly peeking out below the hems. They seemingly became smaller right before my eyes, shrinking in the heat of my pensive gaze.

So I purchased a few new tops for her, one size up, and it was official: my little girl had become a big girl, as evidenced by the fact that the next size up could only be found in the “big girls” category of the online department store.

As I purged the outgrown tops from her closet, I held each one up in front of me, examining one after the other for stains and signs of wear.

And each time I felt the pangs of urgency—to hang onto these remnants of her little-girlhood. To hold tightly to the clothes that had hung loosely on my little girl just a few weeks back. To hang onto the snapshots reeling through my mind as I recalled the laughter and tears that had branded those tops. But mostly, I felt the need to hold tightly to her.

I barely recognized the clothes that had been worn on a rotating basis. They just looked so small. And when she came into the room, for a moment, I barely recognized her. Because she looked so big.

“Gettin’ rid of some clothes, Mom?” she asked, joining me in her closet.

“Uh-huh,” I sighed. And she responded by wrapping her arms around my waist before dashing out of the room to play make-believe with her little brother.

I listened to their merry chatter before bagging up the outgrown clothes. And cloaked in melancholy, I hauled it out to the car.

Looking at that sack of little girl clothes that no longer fit left my mouth watering for more—just one more taste of days gone by. Just one more minute to soak in the presence of the little girl who is no more.

But the truth is, she’ll always be my little girl, even when she insists that she’s not. Even after a series of growth spurts lands her in the same size clothing as me. Even when she is old enough to leave me.

Because I will always hold onto the memories. Of the little girl who wore the little clothes. The one who laughed and cried without abandon. The one who never hesitated to wrap her arms around my waist.

I will always hold onto that little girl, even when there’s a big girl wrapped in my embrace.

Originally appeared on A Beautifully Burdened Life by Jenny Albers

 

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Jenny Albers

Jenny Albers is a midwestern girl at heart who is raising two kiddos on earth while remembering the two who are in heaven. After experiencing pregnancy loss, Jenny has found healing through writing. She is a contributor at Pregnancy After Loss Support and you can find her writing about life, loss, family and faith on her blog A Beautifully Burdened Life. In her free time, Jenny enjoys reading, sewing, and wandering the aisles of her favorite thrift stores. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.