She comes running from her room to see me, her cheeks ruddy with sick, eyes heavy and dark lidded.
“Mummy, it huwts. My tummy.”
Her tiny hand rests on her belly, almost like mine did, years past, cradling the heaviness of her head in the last months of utter safety. I remember her there, taut, like a spring, ready yet patient.
She looks up at me, the sleep tattooed to her lips. I know this feeling-the drawn pain in your bones, the disconcerting ache in the pit of your stomach, the helplessness of a body that’s decided last night’s ham and swiss isn’t your friend.
I remember, and know, but for her, for her 3, almost 4 body, it’s new, raw, and she’s terrified by the force inside.
She sits with me, her warm ball of muscle and obstinate will leaning into me, merged with me, silk from the top of her hair fluttering in my nose as I brush my lips, minute to minute, against her forehead.
“Hummingbirds. I want the hear the Hummingbuwrds.” The Boston Burr on her tongue still hasn’t left, and it flicks my heart each time.
She helps, placing the CD gently inside, waiting for the sounds she’s grown to love. She presses back against me, heating my skin, causing my own jellied insides to stir.
We sit inside this moment, perfect, like crystal figures. Her sister understands this flu, the need to clamber among me that Rosalyn has today.
Later, I’ll let her sit up with me, watching Firefly. I’ll watch her methodically stack the videos, moving them off the floor, nothing like the daughter who the night before, coughed and let loose the dogs of her stomach, all over me, my bed, the blankets. The daughter who stood up panic stricken, crying “change my sheets!” until I reminded her that they were my sheets, and it was perfectly, utterly, all right.
Later I’ll be happy for the battle of hugs and kisses at bed time, because it means she’s better, and my heart can let go of that autolurch it does, the kick of worry that even a simple case of the flu can bring. That constant fear, that something, anything might take her away from me.
Her cheek is smooth against mine when I give her that last buggie-rug and hug on her lip, cooling now, not so fired, clay cooled. I hold her hand in mine for a moment, marvel at how they’re just like mine.