I am at the cafe, by myself, treating myself to a latte before I go pick E up from school. I have just had lunch with an old friend, one who played a big role in helping me get through the last months of my pregnancy with M. There’s not enough time to return home before I go to the school, and anyway, R has texted me to say that M is asleep and I should take myself out for some just-me time.

This is the first time since M was born that I am out by myself with no work to do. I want to revel in it. I order a chai latte, find a table by the window, wonder if I should read my book or look at a magazine, maybe catch up on the news.

Except I do none of those things, because once I sit down and realize no one in my immediate vicinity needs or wants anything from me, a wave of…what? Ennui? That sound so affected, but is about right. Whatever it is, a wave washes over me and my eyes fill with tears.

And I see her face, clear as could be. See her hands tucked under her chin. Feel her weight in my arms.

The world – my every day – quiets for me for a moment and there she is.

There she is. And oh, I am so glad. I am so glad she can come to me like this. A pure and perfect memory. This just-me time becomes just-me-and-her time. I scroll through the pictures of E and M on my phone until I find hers. The single one of her. And I study it and sip my drink and watch the clock and spend a few moments with just her, my middle child.