illuminating the night

None of us have been getting enough sleep.
I have been doing my best to provide warm pillows and cold washcloths, to clean snot rags and sheets and ibuprofen syringes. Almost everything is survivable, I remind myself, including exhaustion.
Still, awake in the wee hours for weeks, snuggling feverish children and scrolling social media, I wind up wondering how we can raise boys in a world where it may be easier to get their hands on an assault rifle than a plastic straw.
I am not sure I'm thinking clearly, though.
I am always at least one step behind, probably since....well, Christmas.
Maybe Christmas 2008, actually.
And there is always something I am forgetting. My keys. My composure. My good sense. My humility. Always something.

I picked up the boys from school this afternoon, stopped at the library to return overdue books, and headed straight to piano lessons. From there we grabbed a quick dinner before attending First Grade Latin America Night at the elementary school. Afterward, at which time we'd ordinarily have teeth brushed and be reading books in bed, we sped through the dark cold and piled into the van, all five, and I asked, just to be sure, Who are we forgetting?

Hank responded immediately, from his place in the middle row: Celia. We don't have her.
His older brothers were quick to say she was with us, just like they've heard us say before. To say that we won't ever forget.

And that's one of the things about waking with a jolt, about brushing hair from foreheads and readjusting quilts, when I pull back from the full catastrophe of nighttime parenting, I sometimes feel her presence, an existential flash. I am often tempted to apologize, not so much for what happened, but for what did not and never will.  To her, and to her brothers.

Instead I try to harness my mind in the moment, try to look for neural centers of hope and rational thinking and remembering, to be thankful for all of it.


rht said...

I have vivid memories of you, and your sister, and Celia -- with me -- in the middle of nights filled with tears, music, smiles, snuggles and love.

When did Hank abandon his bedroom for the laundry room? ;>

Poppy John said...

Jenni Baby,
The Hank pictures remind me of Sandy last week when we went to the "Escape Room" and could not get out.


mike4sam95@yahoo,com said...

our love of are children will never fade. i am sure that are special children love us just as much for rare disease day i wore Celia t-shirt