Sunday, January 10, 2010

My Date

Brian and I arranged to go out to dinner last evening. Reservations were made at a fine Italian restaurant. (I had made them, of course, but I'll take what I can get). I'd previously run to the grocery store and bought those cute mini pizzas, a favorite treat that the girls could assemble themselves for their supper. I'd put on make-up for the first time in a several days (after my dad's funeral on January 6th of this year, the last thing I felt like doing lately was actually making myself look good). The girls' bedtimes were discussed and agreement was reached with little negotiation necessary. I'd determined to make this night special, to forge ahead and steal a few romantic moments with my man, sharing some wine and homemade pasta together. Just the two of us. Just a little get-a-way; a moment to forget that this world can be harsh. It was supposed to be a precious time when we could remind each other - without even using words - that life does go on even in the midst of our trials.

Finally, we were alone in the restaurant. The meal was fantastic, and for the first time in days I'd felt hungry. The wine couldn't have tasted better. Warm chocolate desserts came, along with much laughter as we shared old jokes, jokes that no one - sans my husband and I - would understand, much less find humorous. The dark cloud seemed to be lifting for the first time in nearly two weeks. And I felt good. I felt really good.

"Let's get the girls to bed as soon as we get home," my husband suggested. His eyes shone and danced the way they've done since I'd fallen in love with him more than two decades ago. We arrived home to find our daughters readying themselves for bed. I was looking forward to cuddling up with my husband after a very emotional week, after days spent apart from one another due to his job and my time away to be with my mother, when life and all of its demands get in the way of simple, coveted peace.

We turned the lights off, one room at a time, as is our normal routine. I entered my bedroom and pulled down the comforter. Even though they were cold, the sheets were more than inviting as I crawled inside them because they represented tranquility. Suddenly, we heard small footsteps as my youngest daughter, Caroline, knocked on our bedroom door. I popped out of bed, opened the door, and found her crying, covering her face with her hands. Upon questioning her, she told us that she was having nightmares, and she couldn't sleep, which was a very rare occurrence for her. She explained that she had been watching a show called "Lost Tapes" earlier that evening, which apparently had given her nightmares. According to Caroline, the show was spotlighting giant centipedes in some tropical region. A commercial for a special about vampires compounded her fears.

"I just want to sue those Lost Tapes people!" she cried through her tears. I tried desperately to conceal my laughter, as I humorously pictured my daughter appearing on "People's Court" or some such event where she'd be the plaintiff in "Caroline vs. Lost Tapes" as she attempted to sue for "damages" she'd received related to her nightmares.

We encouraged her to sleep in the guest bedroom, which is the room located closest to ours. That attempt failed, however, when she reappeared within a few moments, crying and obviously still very upset. "Can I please sleep with you, Mommy?" she pleaded.

Without a word, Brian made his way to the guest room. Caroline curled up next to me in my bed, and within seconds, I heard her soft, rhythmic breathing. Her hair smelled of strawberry shampoo, and her little body was once again relaxed as it rested next to mine. Tranquility was restored, and I drifted off to sleep, peacefully for the first time in countless nights.

The next morning, she asked me if she'd "ruined" my date with Daddy. I had mixed feelings as I pondered her question, the previous night's memories and emotions swirling around in my brain. I couldn't bring myself to expose any negativity to my ten-year-old daughter. There will be other dates. There are, however, only a handful of times when our words and actions become lifelong memories for our children to cling to when they need them the most.

"No," I answered. "Everyone gets scared sometimes, Honey. You didn't ruin my time with Daddy; in a way you just made it even more special."

Her smile told me that I said the right thing. I have to remember that Caroline is hurting, too. She lost her grandfather less than a week ago. There will be other dates to look forward to. And honestly, because the years pass so quickly, there's probably only a handful of times left when I'll have the blessing of sleeping with my youngest daughter, to comfort her in her time of need.

For the record, Caroline will not be watching "Lost Tapes" again for a very, very long time. My husband will make sure of it!

1 comment:

Kerry ABOUT ME said...

What a precious story. Many times those special moments don't go as planned but end up turning out even more special. What a great example of that. Still thinking and praying for you guys.

Kerry Osborne