I was tucking her in. Same routine: wash and dry her body; rub lotion into her lesion; cradle her to pour 2 ml of Propranolol down her throat; say "hi" to the three princesses on her pull-up before she slips her dark, pretty feet into the leg holes, first her right, then her left; put on the same footed pajamas, stopping the zipper halfway up to let her finish the job; hold her in the bright teal chair to read Pooh's 123 and A Little Girl's Prayer; pray for everyone in our family, ending with herself.
Until tonight, she had never said her
own name. When her perfect little mouth garbled, "Boob-uh-leeee," that
was my first clue that tonight was different.
switched off the light. She knows that word, "off." I switch on the
noise machine and the wall fan. That's her cue to lay her head on my
shoulder for our slow walk across the short room in the almost-dark to
her crib, while I sing ABCDEFG. She lifts her head and we look at the
two songbird decals on the back wall. We chirp to them. I lay her head
on her pillow, cover her with the blanket that her daddy brought back
from America for her last fall, and the blanket that her grandmother
knitted for her last spring - a grandmother she has never met.
as I am leaned in, and between kisses on the flat space between her black
eyes, I catch a look on her face in the almost-dark. It is a look I have
never seen before. She is as surprised by what she is feeling as I am:
she loves me.
In the next second, the look changes,
and suddenly I am breaking into a million pieces. The look says, "Where
have you been all my life?"
I want to answer. I want
to tell her that I would have been there if I could have. I want to
wipe the confusion and hurt from her beautiful face. But she is only
two-years-old, and she just now knows the word, "off." I think that
perhaps, "The world is a broken place, darling, and the best we can do
(for now) is make something wonderful from the pieces," is a bit too advanced for
her at this point.
So I kiss her again and walk out of
her room, choosing to focus on the thousand little fireworks going off
in my heart. A broken world this may be, but seven weeks after they are
introduced, a daughter loves her mother. Something wonderful, indeed.