My time with Bear is in the evening before bed.  No matter whether I spent the day away from her at work or whether I spent the day with her at home, bedtime is our special time together. 

We sit together and rock back and forth in the warm light of her nightlight.  We are both quiet expect for her contented slurps of milk.  She has started reaching for my hand again, almost like she used to when she nursed.  However, now her hand is big enough to actually grasp my own.  She rubs her fingers on my palm and traces her fingertips rhythmically up and down and back and forth.  Sometimes, she wraps her little fingers around my own and holds on.  The gesture feels so intimate, almost as though our bodies were once again connected.

Once she has finished her milk, I scoop her little body into my arms and carry her to bed.  She allows me to lay her down and to pull her blanket up around her.  I am always careful to arrange her babies next to each side of her so she can find them in the night, and then we say a quick bedtime prayer.  We ask God to bless each member of the family, and at the end, I say, “and especially Bear.”  Simultaneously, she inserts “Momma.”  Often, with tears in my eyes and a heart that seems to fill my chest, I will repeat, “and Momma too.”

I carefully kiss her babies, her blanket, and if she insists, the crib.  Then, I direct blown kisses at each cheek and her forward.  If sleep is going to come easy, she will drowsily rub her eyes.  If sleep is going to be elusive, she will chatter and giggle until I leave.

As I close the door, I look back once more, sad at our parting, and say, “Good night, sweet girl.  I love you.”

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