I just put Halle to bed. It is 10:00pm and she is very tired. She asks me so sweetly if I will snuggle her. I consent. She is asleep within minutes.
I leave the room and go back to my desk to fill out a consensus booklet. My private self hates filling out all of this information and sending it to the government, even though they probably already have this information on file. Suddenly, my concentration is broken by Halle shouting, "Mother! Mother! (pause) Mother!"
I return to her room with a smile on my face. I get such a kick out of her grown-up words. She's in her bed. She says, "I was scared. And when I'm scared, I just need some milk."
I leave, and return again with a small, blue, plastic IKEA cup full of milk. After 2 sips, she hands it back, smiles, and quietly says, "Thank you. That was deli-suss. I love you so much," followed by a big hug around the neck. She is so sweet and sleepy that I can hardly contain my grin. I feel so much love for this little grown-up child.
I ask if I can snuggle some more. She settles in to bed and embraces her Nemo fish (a gift from exactly one year ago). Then her imagination kicks into gear. She says, "My nemo was on my swimsuit, and now he's HERE! in my arms! He was swimming, but now he came back to me. (insert quiet smooch)." It's completely dark in her room, but I can just imagine her eyes shut so tight as she kisses the stuffed Nemo fish in her arms. She lives each moment so genuinely.
Then she POPS up in bed and says, "I forgot the food! My tummy isn't happy. It's still sad and mad. I need pickles and meat and cheese. Then my tummy will be happy."
I guess it's been too long since dinner and she's hungry again. Oh well. She's now sitting next to her father at the kitchen table as he finishes up homework and reading assignments from the first day of the new semester. It's mid-August and unbelievably humid outside. So humid that our windows fog up in the mornings and I'm soaked after a short early morning jog. But despite the heat and the late nights, life is good.
Life is so good.
After a few minutes of snacking and chatting with her father about "land use and planning" (boring!) it is officially time for bed. I climb in next to her one more time and say goodnight. Then she perks up again and says, "No wait! My tummy is still mad. and sad. and crying. forever and ever! And I am crying for you and I will say Mother! Mother! because my tummy is sick.
All the while, she is stroking my cheek and tucking a stray hair behind my ear. Then she pauses and says, "I love you so much." with a kiss on my forehead.
I ask, "Really?"
I lay there without moving. Her hand on my wrist. Her breath like a gentle wind on my forehead. And within moments, she is again asleep.
Heaven is close to my heart tonight.