|She makes my heart stop.|
This is her. This picture is Bri. Long, curly, wild hair, coy smile, carefree, a blithe beauty.
It is 9:30 p.m. A whole hour and a half past her bedtime and she is calling for me. Again. I tiptoe across the living room and open her bedroom door, her princess nightlight casts a dim glow up the lilac wall. But I can see Bri clearly, despite the darkness. Her image is impressed in my mind, the features of her face tattooed on the insides of my eyelids.
I course through her bedroom, too small now with such a big bed, and remind myself to move out a piece of furniture or two to make more room. Tomorrow, I tell myself and then smile because I know it won't be tomorrow. I lay next to her (my favorite part of her new big bed) and snuggle beneath the blankets. I rub her back.
"What is it?" I whisper. This is the third time I've come back into her room tonight and there's noone to take turns with. It's just me and her in the house.
"I miss Daddy," she whines. I stroke her hair away from her face and try to decide if she really misses Daddy. Or is she just saying that because why else hasn't she gone to sleep yet? I decide she really misses him.
She has a hard time sleeping when one or both of us are not at home in the places she thinks we belong.
"He'll be here when you wake up," I tell her and offer to sing to her. And when I begin to sing, my voice squeaky, I realize the book I'd been reading can wait. Should wait. There is nowhere else I'd rather be in this moment.
I finish singing "the temple song" and Bri requests another. We are facing each other, our noses inches apart. I smile in the dark because I can't think of another song to sing. She imitates me, smiling - a wide, sweet, full-hearted grin.
And when I begin to sing again, "I am a child of God" this time, my voice less squeaky and more strangled - strangled with tears. Beacause this is it. This isit.
It's not paying extra for gymnastics or trips to the ice cream shop. It's not princess dresses and birthday parties. It's quiet, dark nights when I don't think I have any more to give, and then that smile appears and I find it. That more, and I give it.
It's teaching through music that yes, Bri, you are a child of God and He loves you. And it's the spontaneous smile kept hidden all day, saved just for me, saved just for us.