With a growling scream, you were free, your infant wail piercing the air as you were placed on my chest, and the soundtrack to my life changed.
Noisier, more chaotic, with lulls and crescendos and crashing refrains.
Infant grunts grew into cries, then wails, then screams of frustration.
Tantrums ensued, your angry shrieks layered over my mortified silence as we moved through public places.
Sing-song voices rang out from the television and the car stereo, while the thin sound of a bucket of blocks being dumped on the carpet competed for attention.
Stuffed animals grew falsetto voices or deep baritones; inanimate objects suddenly grew a personality of their own, with their own opinions and complaints to carry to my ears.
Tiny giggles grew into great guffaws that rang throughout our home with careless abandon, only to transform into a self-conscious laughter that sought peer approval.
Sitcoms with their hollow laugh tracks and the tittering gossip filled our living room, then moved to the loft upstairs, and later their muffled voices teased me from behind your bedroom door.
Game soundtracks, which once annoyed me with their cartoonish "Boing!" and "Beep!" and "Zap!" were replaced by the haunting sounds of gunfire and explosions, overlaid by discussions of sports stats and the relative merits of the new girl in science class; punctuated by bodily noises and the accompanying hoots of laughter or disgust.
Soft, mushy syllables sharpened, deepened, then grew piercing; once disarming, words became, at times, a weapon, and occasionally, a commodity more precious than gold.
Suddenly, the cacophony of youth morphed into computer keyboards clacking, punctuated by notification dings and the ticking of a text being tapped out by your thumb.
Music, with its bass thumps, electric riffs or acoustic twangs blared from behind your door or escaped from earbuds, replacing the sunny chatter that once annoyed me with it's steady hum.
The timeless sound of too-big feet shuffling along a gymnasium floor to a graduation processional that generations have marched to before.
The piercing shriek of packing tape being wrestled from the roll. The thump of a loaded cardboard box landing on the floor.
Doors slamming, the solid thump of the trunk lid closing.
A muffled goodbye, my head buried in the soft, sweet place on your neck that has tantalized me since your day of birth as I whispered my pride and choked back my tears.
And then, silence.
When I am still, I can hear it. The echoes of your voice.
Your childish laughter bounces through the room, teasing me, as I stare incomprehensibly into the mirror in the morning.
I delight in the traces of your presence. The scuff on the wall draws my fingers to it when I pass, and I hear your footfalls as you run for the door, dragging your hockey skates along the wall in your haste.
The dent at the bottom of the stairs, made amongst triumphant cheers as your toy trucks careened down the steps, elicits a smile.
The baby teeth tucked in my jewelry box, as precious as the pearls they lie beside, remind me of the joyful laughter that followed many moments of hesitation and nervous whines.
And then, the echoes fade. The silence creeps over my memories as a fog overtakes the waters at dawn.
And the quiet is deafening.