I still have it. The Mommy-Radar. I can hear a burp - a cough - a muffled cry - a whimper. My eyes jump open and I'm there next to them... to hold, to soothe, to fix whatever ails them. I love this part of being a Mommy. "The fixer" part. Even if I'm only half awake.
Lately, Hope has been going through a bit of a growth spurt and wants to nurse much more frequently. This means I'm up more frequently through the middle of the night. I go on auto-pilot. I can sleepwalk to her... sleepnurse through the feeding...sleepchange her diaper... it all just magically happens. And most times she magically goes right back to sleep.
Hope really doesn't like getting her diaper changed. And typically that's the time that she's inconsolable. I've stopped trying and generally just motor through the diaper change and hope Ed can sleep through the noise.
She woke up at 1:30am this morning. I had fallen asleep well before 11pm and was really out of it when she started to stir. Bleary eyed - I picked her up and, in a daze, walked to the changing table to get her a new diaper before I nursed her. I will confess that I couldn't wait to get this changing/nursing/burping/back to sleep session over with. I was just so tired.
But as I put her down on the table, something happened... to both of us. I don't even know how to explain it... and I'm sure this will all come across as quite loony.
Suddenly, we were both wide awake. Under the glow of a mini flashlight that lays on the table for these middle of the night changes, I could see Hope looking straight up and smiling. And in that moment I felt completely awake - like I had been well rested for days.
Usually at night we are both half asleep and often just going through the motions. And, as I mentioned, Hope is usually screaming through these insulting diaper changes. She's never calm enough or awake enough to notice her butterfly mobile, I thought as I stood there.
But there we were... the two of us wide awake. I gave her mobile a little spin so the butterflies danced above her and just stood there watching her.
She was cooing... and kicking her legs. She was smiling... and then started looking beyond the butterflies. She even locked eyes with me several times. And in that moment - I knew he was there. In that moment, I was given the beautiful gift of alertness so I could spend time with Gavin and Hope. I'm telling you - he was right there. Any second, I expected to see him. (I didn't - but he felt that close!)
I'm not lying to you when I say that we spent a half hour at that changing table. It was after 3am when my head was back on my pillow. I fell right to sleep with a smile on my face.
If someone you love has died - you are not alone. Really - you're not alone! They are there - around you - all the time. Don't wait for a big, neon sign. Don't wait for something grand or shocking. They are in the small moments... the coincidences... the every day things. I promise you - they are there. And if you open your heart to that possibility, you will begin to notice the gifts they give you.
Last night, I received a beautiful gift. I stood there in the presence of my beautiful son's soul and felt so joyful - actually joyful! - as I watched Hope smiling at those butterflies dancing in the night.
Sometimes the most profound gifts come from the most profound pain.