Is there really anything I can write that expresses how great it feels to have little arms around my neck after two weeks away?
The big one woke up as the cab dropped me off from the airport. She wanted to know how I had got home. I picked her up and carried her into the other room (so as not to disturb her little sister). Her dad quickly darted in and moved the basket of clean laundry off the big soft rocking chair, and set the light down low for us. J kept her arms tightly linked behind my head, even after we sat down, until she was fully awake, and sure, from searching inspection of my face, that I was really there.
Then she grilled me about all the modes of transportation I had experienced – from leaving Grandma’s house to arriving home. After that lengthy discussion, and some just plain cuddling, I convinced her that she’d be more comfortable stretched out with her blanket and bear. It wasn’t too hard a sell, since her eyes were already closing; so I took her back to bed.
That woke up her little sister. All she said was three words: “Mama?”; then, softer: “Mama….”; and finally, with delight, but still quietly: “Mama!” – if she could have said “at last” I think she would have. As I carried her to the rocking chair, her sleepy arms drooped in an attempt to encircle my neck and her heavy head bobbed on my shoulder. Sitting in the chair, she blissfully snuggled her head in, under my chin, tucked her arms in between us and heaved a great sigh of relief, clearly deeply satisfied with her position in the world.
We rocked for a while. I just inhaled the delicious sleepy scent of my little girl- such a short time ago my baby- aware of what a blessing our every synchronized breath was. I could feel her weight – heavier in my arms – and see the fringe of her hair – closer to her eyes- had changed just in the short time I was away. She had changed, so had her sister, and so had I, but we were, forever and ever, a mama and her daughters. They were happy and healthy, strong and beautiful. They loved me still, even if I had been away too long.
In the stillness of that dark night I was clearly the luckiest woman alive.