She is laying there, in her new bottom bunk bed, wall scattered with stars and flowers, and fake gemstones behind her. Tears streak her freckled skin, make her eyes more brilliantly blue, make me notice her cheek bones, how thin she is. My eyes move to her collar bone showing against her pink shirt. She is the picture of All American Beauty, tousled blond hair, golden skin, adorable nose, pink puffy skirt.
"Is she too thin?" I wonder again. Two weeks of illness plus however many months of parasites before then. And she eats like a bird.
Dark circles are under her eyes, awake too early again this morning. She has gotten out of bed during quiet time, again. We reset the timer for another hour. "Why won't she just sleep? She needs it so much."
"I can't lay down this long," she wails. So impatient, so full of ideas. "Will you lay down with me?"
It's been a month since she moved into this room from mine. A month since I lay next to her and held her until she fell asleep. Truthfully, she doesn't usually need a nap anymore. Quiet time is now my chance to get a break, and hers to learn to entertain herself. But today she needs sleep.
I lay down beside her in the too big bed. Forehead to forehead we lay as she continues to sob. She feels things so deeply this girl of mine. She has no means of discerning between her hurt feelings and the reality behind them.
I rub her back like I used to. Humming the song I made up just for her. Slowly her body surrenders to exhaustion and she lies still, breathing deeply, face at rest. Then I let my own tears flow, dropping silently onto her hair. How much longer will she let me do this, be close to her like this? How do I mother this sunny, impetuous, never resting, beautiful child?
I gently kiss her forehead and dry my eyes before getting up to go on with my day, leaving my heart resting with a tiny little form laying in a too big bed in the big kid room.