He doesn't like to be alone.
Stella could lay for an hour, sometimes longer, content with an occasional check in. She would lie on our vanilla colored shag rug and roll over and stare towards the North and grab the leg on our coffee table, all without uttering a single needy cry. Perhaps it was the natural light from our seventh floor loft with floor to ceiling windows? Or a gift from her Mother, content with little, independently satisfied?
Leo likes to be within a few feet, or better yet, within an arms length from a human being. He cries when left alone and he quiets when the rest of us are talking, our collective familiar chatter ringing comfort.
We have been listening to the blues lately, mostly Robert Johnson, and he bounces around like he understands, like he had a front row seat to the grief.
Does he smile more than Stella? Hard to say, to remember, but it sure feels like his grin is a permanent fixture. I feel like it was work with Stella, total exaggeration and animal sounds and scrunched up faces. With Leo, I can almost glance at him and he beams with cheekiness.
And all of this comparing? Inevitable, I suppose.
Left from the comparison mix is M of course, poor middle child, who none the less lurks around every grin and gesture and the subtle personality previews, revealing herself in fragments through her brother and sister, leaving us guessing at who our little girl was to be.
I take the 3am feeding while Kari pumps from the kitchen and it's damn near the best part of my day, even though the day is only three hours old, coming before the sun rises, before wrestling with Stella, before a poured drink with Kari on the porch post bedtime. He lays next to me in the dark, groggy and needy, head lifted just a little from the arch of Kari's pillow. I hold the glass bottle and find his mouth and then nuzzle my face against the side of his. My nose rests below his chin, my forehead against his thinning hair, my lips against his arm and chest. He gulps and swallows with this perfected evolutionary rhythm and I kiss his arm and he tinkers with my hand and these moments are, perhaps, what I will be thinking about should the time come when we build his first sand castle and take our first hike and walk him into kindergarten.
I think that is all for now.