She woke up at 2 a.m. with a tummy that felt funny. Her dad responded to her call, carried her into the bathroom. I heard the footsteps overhead. More urgent than the usual “I have to pee!” middle-of-the-night trips to the potty. I tried not to wake up. I was having such a good dream. For the first time in such a long time I was fully asleep. Actually present in the world of my subconscious. But then there were the coughing sounds. And the crying sounds. And I pulled myself out of my sleeping psyche, out of my warm bed and walked up the stairs into the bathroom, bright as day with the overhead light. There she was, my littlest one, perched on the stool, leaning over the toilet. I was certain of the calling now.
I took over where Sweetie stood. Rubbing her back and telling her it’s OK. So far, just forced coughing and tired teary eyes. We adults traded glances. Was she really sick? How could we know? How do you explain nausea to a 4-year-old? I wrapped her up in towels, the closest warm items I could get my hands on. I held her as much as I could. I tried to help her calm down. I told her she didn’t have to try to throw up. That if her body had to do it, then it would. She stopped coughing and started yawning. She leaned into me and asked to go back to bed.
Instead we walked downstairs into mommy and daddy’s bed, bringing the towels with us. We’d have blankets for warmth, but we’d need the towels for mess containment. Daddy already had the throw-up bowl at the ready and was moving his own pillow out to the couch. The two of us settled in bed, surrounded by towels, in line with the big silver bowl. She whispered in my ear, recounting the previous several minutes, narration style. I kept feeling her forehead. In the quiet moments I listened to her belly rumble. Her eyes still ran sleepy tears, and she burrowed into my shoulder, casting aside the pillows we’d tried to prop her up with.
Years ago, and for so long, I slept beside my babies. Or I curled beside them as they slept. Their warm bodies given over to dreams and rest. This night I lay, somehow pushed to the edge of the bed by the smallest member of the family, listening to the sounds of Sweetie just out of reach in the other room. As I waited for the vomiting to begin I found a moment of thanks for the intimacy of this moment. For being needed and for being able to meet the need. That is all we can really ask for. That is all we can really expect.
How lucky am I that this all happened just in time for Just Write! It’s pretty close to the perfect Extraordinary Ordinary moment, no? Go on over to Heather’s for more. She’s the best.