It was Saturday afternoon. As I carried in groceries, the Dancing Queen cried out over the monitor. She didn't want to take a nap. The Mad Scientist tried to talk to her, cajole her into some sleep, but she didn't want to miss out on anything now that mommy was home.
I left the boys to put everything away and brought the Dancing Queen to my bed. I laid her down and promised to stay with her if only she took a nap. (The night before had been hard. The Dancing Queen's rest was broken by lots of pain--her ear filled with infection. Again.)
I needed her to sleep. She was so tired, exhausted.
After a couple of minutes and telling me several times that she didn't need to sleep, "just rest", her breathing steadied. Her eyelids stopped flickering. She stopped switching out pacifiers.
For a while, I just laid there, listening to TRex downstairs. He was making a lot of noise, excited to be spending time with his daddy. Then the doors banged one last time as the boys carried Christmas lights outside for hanging.
So, I laid there, head-to-head with my sweet girl, breathing her in. I watched her long, long lashes, unmoving now. When was the last time I had looked at them? They looked just as they did when she was a baby. She always had the longest eye lashes.
She made the faintest of sounds as she slept. And the constant hum almost lulled me to sleep.
But then I listened to that musical heartbeat. I started to count the missed beats and tried to find a discernible pattern in the way it would speed up and slow down. And as the Dancing Queen's body seemed to fall deeper and deeper into sleep, her heart never felt at rest to me. It didn't seem even either. There was no set rhythm.
And I was reminded of how fragile all of this is.
How much longer before too many beats are missed?
When will that faulty rhythm be too out of sync?
As I silently wept in my baby's hair, holding her tiny hand, I wished for the moment to last forever.
Instead, the Dancing Queen rolled over, leaving me . . .