Saturday, April 14, 2012

Too close

Last night E woke from a terrible dream. She was clammy and whimpering and crawled into my arms. "Just let me hold you," I whispered. "You're safe. The dream will fade. Go back to sleep." I stroked her hair. I spooned her snug against me.

After five or ten minutes she sat up in the dark. It didn't go away. Can I tell you about it? Tears fell down her face as fast as words fell out, and she blurted out a vivid tale that left her alone and permanently apart from us. She knew she'd never see us again and in her sleep she shook with fear until she woke herself with her trembling. Only with an eternity of darkness shushing and promises of her safety and my proximity did she finally fall back to sleep. It took her an hour this morning to awaken past her tremulous memories of the dream, and she stayed extra close by my side.

This evening we got an email message that the father of one of her classmates died yesterday. We don't know any details, only that the little girl's birthday party, which was scheduled for tomorrow morning, is cancelled. I keep thinking about that little girl, her father gone forever and the idea of birthdays probably forever ruined.

And I keep thinking about my girl, to whom I have to tell this story tomorrow, and to whom I spent a midnight hour promising I'd never disappear.

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