While I struggle to complete a couple of blogs I have been working on, I thought I would share this little story with you.
Our Riley is such a tender-hearted little girl. She loves very deeply and her thoughts constantly focus on those people that have made their way into her heart. She is quick with a hug and kiss and a pat of encouragement whenever anyone is feeling down. She still writes letters to the boy she went to kindergarten with, even though he moved away long ago and no longer writes notes back to her. Once her heart is knit with another, that bond is there forever (or at least while she is still young and sweet and not so wise in the way of the world).
And, as her father, it is wonderful to have a sweet little pea that loves me so much. Whenever I am feeling down, she senses it. A quick, “It’s ok, Daddy. I love you!” is her way to heal all of my problems, and usually she is successful.
But when the person that she loves goes away, it breaks her sweet heart. Many nights, she still cries over Pappa Red (who died in 2008, just before she turned 4) and Grandpa Gil (who died in 2010). We’ll find her wrapped in her blankets, fighting off sleep while tears stream unchecked down her round cheeks. “I just wish I could see them SO badly!” she chokes out amidst her gasps for breath.
Last night was one of those nights. Wifie came downstairs and told me that Riley was sobbing in bed. Why? She missed Hummer, our Australian Shepherd that died two summers ago. I went up to her bed and laid down on top of the covers and asked her what was wrong.
“I don’t understand why Hummer had to die,” she choked out. “He was such a special dog. He never bit anyone or did anything to hurt anyone!!!”
“I know baby. But he had some health problems, and he is better off now than he was.”
“I know he is,” she continued sobbing. “But I just miss him so much!!!”
So I tried to comfort her the only way I knew how. I kissed her forehead, told her I loved her, and then started humming while stroking her hair. Her tiny hand reached up and patted mine, then grasped it tightly. The tears continued to flow, but slowed to a trickle. The gasps for breath slowed to sniffles. Suddenly her breath was deep and even, and her sweet, round cheek was streaked red, but dry. My little baby had fallen asleep.
It hit me even before wifie came into the room and whispered it: “these moments won’t last much longer.” I know it’s true. She’s 8 now… her older sister is already pulling away and taking her own fierce, independent path. One day soon, she won’t need her daddy to still her tears. One day soon, she’ll be worried about boys and clothes and talking on the phone, or Snapchatting or whatever the new method of communication is at that point. I will be relegated to the back of the bin full of people she wants in her life.
But for one night, I was able to kiss her plump, soft cheek as I left the room and know she is still my “baby” girl. For now, there are still precious moments when I can play the hero and chase the tears away.