She’s sick. A virus, most likely. She never complains, so when she does–I know it’s bad.
She wants me to lay with her. To stroke her braids and tell her she’ll feel better soon. She says a little boy in her class was “dismithed” today because he had a headache, too.
Her daddy gives up his side of the bed, so she can fall asleep beside me. Gone are the days of us both fitting comfortably in her single bed.
I rub her forehead and whisper I need to take her temperature before placing the thermometer in her ear. Her fever’s gone, for now, but I don’t trust this virus not to bring it back. I count the hours from her last dose and set an alarm for 3am. I have a friend who has woken up every night for years to check her son’s sugar. It is her normal. So much so, I forget to ask if she still does.
I’ll ask tomorrow. Being a mother always deserves recognition. It is a most important job.
I pick her up—she’s all arms and legs—her toes brush my shins as I carry her up the stairs.
The day is coming where I won’t be able to carry her and I dread it so. She feels safest in my arms, completely supported, only dependent on the earth below by proxy. Unbound, but cradled. Free, but wrapped in love.
I lay her in her bed and tuck her bunnies in around her. She started with one, but now there are four.
I sit on the floor beside her bed and say the prayer I know she forgot. The one hushed by heavy eyelids and a nodding head.
I finish and add something new. Something all my own, for the days that I know are coming.
I pray that when I cannot carry her, she will let me share her burden. I pray that when she becomes too big to hold, I remember to reach for her hand. I pray that when I can’t lift her up the stairs, I can still raise her spirits. I pray that as long as I am here, she never feels alone.
She will outgrow her shoes, her bed, and even her bunnies, but I pray she will never get so tall that I cannot reach her. That she will go far, but never be lost.
I pray that my little girl, never gets too big for me.
She sighs in medicated sleep. Her arm flops off the side of the bed and her hand finds mine.
“Mom,” she whispers in the darkness. “Will you stay with me a little while?”
I kiss her hand and bring it to my chest.
My darling, for you–I have forever.