I’m in my closet, trying to find the top that goes with this damned skirt.
No, this one is too long.
Where the heck is it?
Brooke shouts from her room.
“Mama! Come be with me!”
Those words. I’ll never, ever, EVER tire of those words.
I call back.
“I’m on my way, sweet girl; I just need one sec!”
She makes her way into my room. Her hair is wet. It drips down the back of her pajama top.
“Come here, baby,” I say. “I’m going to squeeze your hair a little, okay?”
She turns around and lets me wring out the water. It seems like such a small thing, this, but it’s not small at all. It’s a tremendous act of trust, years and years and years in the making.
She looks at the skirt and boots on the floor of the closet.
“What are you doing?” she asks.
I can’t help but smile at the question.
There really are no small things when everything is hard-won.
“I’m laying out my clothes for work,” I say.
“Don’t go!” she yells.
“Oh, honey,” I say, “I’m not going anywhere right now. These are for tomorrow. I won’t go until tomorrow, promise.”
Her face melts into a caricature of sadness.
“No,” she says, “I don’t want you to go tomorrow. I want you to stay home.”
I stop what I’m doing and sit on the floor. I reach out my arms and, when she accepts, I scoop her into my lap.
“I don’t want to go, baby. but I have to. And you’ll be in school all day anyway, right silly goose?”
It’s an invitation. One that only she knows.
I see the hint of a smile. She’s in.
“Do the Mama Goose!” she says.
“No! No! No!” I say, playing my part.
“Why not?” she asks.
“Because you’ll stick your finger in my nose!”
She laughs at the script.
I have no idea what any of it means. It doesn’t matter. It’s ours.
She tries to stick her skinny little finger in my nose. I turn my head before she can.
This is what we do.
She laughs harder.
It rolls over me like a healing balm.
We’ll be okay.
As long as she keeps laughing, it will all be okay.
She runs off into her room, then yells.
“Mama, come be with me!”
I abandon the quest for the perfect shirt. Screw it, I’ll wear a dress.
I turn off the closet light and go where I belong – with my girl.
Where there are no small things.