I was washing the butter off the pan that grilled our cheese sandwiches. Early afternoon was here already, and when I looked downward at the soap water and caught view of my pajamas, I remembered my exhaustion from a night of poor sleep. Guilt thoughts about the day being half wasted had tried to creep in, but they were pressed thin by my eight-year-old daughter’s roaring laughter over the way my pinky finger lifts whenever I eat handheld food. We had squeezed a grapefruit’s juice into our spoons over the course of the meal. It satisfied both of us, and also ushered in visceral memories of my father feeding me the bitter fruit, piece by piece.
I stood at the sink thinking on these things and felt Maryn’s soft presence behind me asking for a hug. She always snuggles in so sweet.
“I have a headache,” she said.
“Oohhh. I’m sorry. Have you tried drinking some water?”
“I will. I’m sure that’ll help. I think I’m gonna lay down.”
“Ok. I’m glad you take such good care of your body.” I hoped to myself that I had taught her this in some way. I also felt the gritty stirring on my own internal battlefield, reminding me how hard and holy an act of self-love can be. I suggested she camp out in her bed with some books.
She disappeared for a moment. I was wringing the water out when she reemerged and moved toward me with another idea. “Maybe we should lay down in your bed and read and then take a power nap.”
I tossed the rag toward the sink’s edge and felt a loving surrender happen in me. Yes. Maybe we could both take care of our bodies today and be together while we do it.
Maryn searched her shelves and chose three books to carry in along with her princess water cup; I grabbed a half-read Maya Angelou. We settled down underneath my mismatched bedding and there was an unspoken between us about how perfect this was feeling.
I took a deep breath to absorb all of what it was and turned my head to find her precious face.
“Maryn, do you know how much goodness is in this room right now?” I lifted my chin and smiled and closed my heavy eyes. “What do you see that is goodness?” I asked. “What do you hear? Or maybe you feel it.”
“Well, I hear Jack bouncing the basketball and having fun outside. And I hear the birds chirping.”
It was my turn. “I feel the breeze on my skin,” I said. “It’s subtle but it’s fresh.”
Then we realized together that the window behind Maryn’s head wasn’t open like the one behind mine; she couldn’t feel the coolness like I could. She twisted and reached up and up and found the push too difficult.
“Let me help you.” I got it with one strong pull.
She buried her head back into the pillow, made a long stroke down the dog’s back and continued on. “And I LOVE the smell of Happy’s AWESOME BREATH.” She smiled big toward me and waited frozen for my response, completely pleased by her own sarcastic wit.
I knew it could appear from an outside view that little was happening just then, yet not a bit of wasted day was being felt in any of the little. We settled inside the covers of our chosen books and into each other too. We connected without words and took a small few minutes to notice the life around us and nurture it within us, between us.
I don’t know how long we had been there when Maryn leaned in and broke the silence.
“There are no pictures in this book,” she whispered. “I’ll have to use my imagination.”
Do you hold a meaningful story of a moment you chose to care and connect? A moment you chose to be present, to notice and welcome life into the room, to nurture love within you or around you? Write it down. Share it. Your story of connection can and will bless others!
*this story was originally published in 2015 on my personal Facebook page, and republished on June 22, 2016 on The Mighty.