I had this stupid petty post written (and shortly published) about how J prefers her Auntie A over just about everyone, including me. As I hit “publish,” J was crying hysterically, clearly indicating that bedtime was not going to be easy. H, our nanny, and I had already tried to get her to settle. I shut off the computer and headed upstairs where J was whimpering in her nanny’s arms.
She reached out to me and wrapped herself around me as tightly as she could. N started to cry a bit, so I held J and leaned over N’s crib and rubbed his back. I leaned toward J’s crib to make a motion like I was going to lay her down, and she squeezed me. I looked down at N and I could tell even in the dark that his eyes were open. I reached down and he held up his hand, wrapping his fingers around mine.
A few minutes passed and I realized I was going to be there awhile, and since I don’t have a glider replacement, I unwrapped my hand from N’s and I knelt down between their cribs. J reached up and put her arm around my neck and I reached back in to hold N’s hand. As he grabbed my first two fingers, he pulled my arm in as far as he could and took his other hand and stroked my arm.
Sitting there, with my daughter slowly falling asleep in my arms and my son holding onto me drifting into sleep, I began to cry. I rested my head on J’s shoulder and squeezed N’s hand. My thoughts turned to a young girl – my best friend’s niece – who learned less than a week ago that her cancer had come back. At 14, this will be her 2nd go-round with cancer in 4 years. And I thought about her mom, and wondered if she thinks back to nights like this with her daughter – nights where all her daughter wanted was just to be held or touched while she drifted to sleep. I wonder if she thinks of those nights in the dark hours when her daughter battles the effects of chemotherapy and radiation. I squeezed J as much as I could without waking her, stroked N’s head, and stood up as my tears fell onto J’s shoulder.
As I laid Julia down in her crib and then reached out to squeeze N’s hand one last time for the evening, I silently promised to do everything I can to try and see these difficult bedtimes as a blessing instead of a frustration.
And I prayed that a mom in Colorado has forever to reach out and squeeze her daughter’s hand.