Sometimes, there are moments in your life that you wish you could bookmark and come back to at will to feel the euphoria once again. These moments generally happen so fast you’re either unprepared to take it all in or you don’t realize what just happened until later. Several days ago… a moment in my life left me wanting more and realizing that it was a memory I would carry with me forever.
Daddy’s Little Girl had unfortunately joined the scores of other kids with some sort of sickness. We think she had croup: a disease that hits infants and young children and involves harsh coughing, hoarseness, fever and difficult breathing. Essentially… it’s a bad cough. On the list of illnesses flying around these days… I can think of worse things she could have gotten but it still sucks nonetheless.
DLG was pretty resilient. She didn’t let the croup get her down. All throughout the illness it was pretty much a non-issue for her. She wasn’t upset, grumpy or whiney. In fact she was a real joy to be around.
It was night time that was the real issue.
Every night for several days, about three hours into her bedtime slumber she would start coughing and coughing and coughing. Amazingly, she would never wake up! She would cough in her sleep. It would keep Bunny and I awake though. It also left me feeling like a horrible parent trying to go to sleep in my bed in the next room while leaving her to fend for herself in her room.
The first night her coughing got to a point where something really had to be done, we got up and fetched some water to see if it might wash away those coughs. I went in to her darkened room and gently picked her out of her crib… so as not to wake her too suddenly.
She woke up momentarily to take a swig of her water and upon completion of that she laid her head on my shoulder to go back to sleep.
DLG is normally a pretty active squirmer. I’m never able to hold her in the cradled position I did when she was a newborn. It is in these moments where she’s at the doorway of some unimaginably comforting baby dream about giant teddy bears, hills of ice cream or that soft bunny from “Goodnight Moon”, when I am able to cradle her like I was just a few short months ago… before she became a “big girl”. The only difference now is that she’s longer and her legs spill out of the protective shield of arms I’ve surrounded her with.
It is sitting in her quiet and dark room when I reflect on a little bit of everything that brought me to where I am at that moment. I’ve lived on this Earth for almost 30 years and perhaps I get a little too philosophical sometimes… perhaps it’s my OCD… but it is an incredible relief of stress and anxiety to sit in that room holding the fruit of your loins who believes that the sun rises and sets with you and her mama.
Her nightlight lit up the room on this particular evening to a point where I could look down and see her little sleeping face splashed with the green hue the nightlight was emitting. I couldn’t help but smile and think how far I’ve come in my life, how beautiful she was and how blessed by God I must be to have such an incredible child.
Then, before I really had a chance to take it in, she opened her eyes, looked into mine, lifted her little hand up and placed it on my right cheek. Her delicate hand which almost a year and a half ago wasn’t connected to any clear thought but rather acted on impulse was now clearly resting on my cheek for a reason. More gently than I could ever do… she stroked the side of my cheek, let out a little chuckle, and laid to rest her hand back from where it came. Then, just quickly as she had woken up, she was back asleep again to run with the kitty cats, climb the mile high set of stairs or fall into the stadium full of feather pillows.
I sat there, utterly dumbfounded trying to wrap my mind around what exactly just happened. At that time, I wished I would have thought to say, “Okay whoa… wait until I’m ready before you do that! I wanna get Bunny in here to see this and I want to get a picture and I wanna soak all this in! Can you hold your hand there a little longer? How about if I cry when you put your hand there? Then it would be like we were in a movie or something!”
The grim reality is that it will never happen like that again. I honestly don’t know if I would have wanted it to happen any differently. The benefit of having our God given ability to replay memories is better than any movie because you’re not only replaying what happened visually… but mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
With all the words that my genius child is able to say at 15 months… she hasn’t been able to formulate “I love you” even though Bunny and I say it to her all the time. I never really question whether she loves us, but it is of course is always nice to hear it verbalized. Perhaps she’s saving the best for last… but when she stroked my cheek in the dead of night several days ago… I got all the confirmation I needed.
Perhaps I can wait a little longer…
Like two peas in a pod