Saturday, 30 April 2016

Letter to Lena

Reading: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Listening to: Evening birdsong
Outside: Soaked rain clouds, deep blue

Dear Lena,

You’re two years and five months old now, and wailing snotty nose into your baby monitor, brandishing your angst at the world and my left ear. I type this with a lump in my throat, because I know you’re tired and you have a cold, and you’re wanting and waiting to close your eyes for the night. You’re fighting. 
            Last night, I held you through the night and into morning until almost four o’clock because I found you out of bed and howling your head off. “Sleep on couch with Mommy,” you insisted, over and over, bawling over the pile of sheets and blankets you’d ripped off your bed, exhaustion-wracked and defiant. Into a fresh, soft blanket I bundled you, curling up on the couch and covering your bare feet, patting your rump like I did when you were brand new, marvelling at the way you mold yourself around me: folding your legs neatly in the bare curve of mine, going quiet, your black eyes blinking up at me in the dark.
            I held you like I’d done so many nights before, back when I thought night feeds would never end; but end they did, and those drowsy wondrous hours faded away until the occasional illness, when what you need most is Mommy’s hug. I was given this rare opportunity. I held you for a long time.


You’ve settled now. Now I’ll say it. Darling, today, nothing went right for me.
            Rain hampered my yardwork and I didn’t get it all done. My one free day in the week, and it rains.
            Watching the sky for rain and gauging how long I had to do my outdoor stuff kept me from finishing my indoor stuff, except for three loads of laundry (precious clothes, precious time).
            To top it all off, our boiler broke. It’s been twenty-four hours without heat or hot water.
But then these other things happened.
            You spent time with Daddy making Play-Doh creatures and figuring out mazes on your Tablet.
            I managed to get a shower at our neighbour’s house – a little kindness goes a long, long way.
            You helped Daddy make dinner tonight, and we all ate together at the kitchen table, serving up steaming spaghetti Bolognese from the pan in the middle. A rare occasion for our three faces to all look at the same place at once. Delicious.
            You listened when I told you about the magic of the Natural History Museum in London, and how we’ll go visit there someday.   
            You gave me a hug tonight, without me asking.


           You are sleeping now, and in a moment I’ll be at your bedside, straightening the covers around you. It’s this little bit I can do now – now that you’re getting so grown up, making your own opinions and surprising me with your burgeoning sense of humor. It’s the tiny ways you need me now, but only when you’re asleep. Only when you don’t know.
            Darling, remember this: all we have is precious, precious time. Sometimes things don’t go right, so we have to remember the things that do. A warm blanket under your chin, a hand on your brow. A silent kiss. These things are right. 
            Sleep tight.

Picture from here.

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