Last night. It’s 10 PM and I’m feeling sad. I’ve been picked on twice lately, and it’s sitting with me now. Nevermind by who, or how; it’s unimportant. Every once in a while I’m the victim of cruelty, and every once in a while it takes me a while to process. The hurt here is fresh.

I’m in a quiet mood. My tummy hurts. This is a standard symptom I get every once in a while when things are bad, or in the post-traumatic period of a stressful encounter. I recognize my body and acknowledge the signals it’s giving me. After the last piece of laundry is folded my husband and I sit on the couch next to one another in the soft glow of the nightlight and we talk for a bit. I feel the clutching feeling in my body start to soften; then our daughter wakes from her sleep and cries out.

I slip into bed next to her and she slides into my arms, sucking her thumb. Her hair, her cheek, and her ear are all close to me, all smelling distinctly different, each in a lovely post-bath sleepy way. She insists on sleeping in my arms and lays her head on my chest, with her knees pulled up against my tummy. At first I lie there hoping to get up in a few minutes and do some more work around the house; wanting some more head space. Then, from the area precisely where her knees are, I feel the tension in my body start to let go, as if a muscle that was seized up is relaxing. It is a warm release, almost like slipping in a bath. I get the distinct impression she did this to me on purpose; it was why she had to hold me close. Like a physician, forcing a cure on a recalcitrant patient. I know now I can handle slings and arrows. I feel peaceful. I hold my husband’s hand in bed and we three drift into sleep.

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