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Hold Tight

The sounds of “Mama, Mama, MAMA,” increasing in intensity and a frantic shaking of my shoulders startle me awake. Lightning flashes through the windows, and I sit straight up. Ugh, I sit up way too fast; I know my reward will be a brutal headache for the fastest sit up outside of a fitness regimen.

I find myself nose to nose with Cassidy, my four-year-old. Lightning dances through the window, as a roll of thunder drums in the distance.

“Hey sweet pea, are you scared?” I ask groggily, already knowing the answer.

Cassidy nods her head as I pull the covers back and scoot over to make enough room for three people on a queen size bed. Snoring next to me, my husband is completely oblivious and unaffected. Because of course he is. Sodom and Gomorrah could be experiencing the wrath of God on our front doorstep, and he would be none the wiser.

Cassidy nestles into my arms as I breathe in the faint smell of lavender on her skin.

“Mama’s got you, it’s just a passing storm. You can sleep in here tonight, ok?”

“I love you Mama,” she manages to get out before a yawn takes over and she closes her eyes.

“I love you too,” I reply, kissing her on her forehead. Just like her Daddy, she’s out for the count--which leaves me the only one awake. Looking towards the nightstand, the clock glows with the time of 1:11 in the morning. Thank heaven it’s Saturday.

I close my eyes.

Did I lock the car door? Pretty sure I did. I need to start a load of jeans in the morning if I want to wear my favorite pair on Sunday. Oh, and don’t forget to call Cherise back.

Okay, stop brain. Relax. Time to drift back to sleep like these experts I’m surrounded by. Deep breath in, deep breath out. Clear your head.

Five seconds later.

Crap, we ran out of aluminum foil and I forgot to get it at the store.

ARGH! I give up, I give UP! I’m up!

Untangling myself from Cassidy, I crawl out the bed and tuck the covers gently back around her. Grabbing my glasses, I walk around the bed until—WHAM! My toe crashes into the corner of the dresser, strong enough to make both the dresser and me shudder. I bite down on my lip with everything I have, as all manners of illustrious phrases pass through my mind. This is not my best moment.

I manage to hobble the rest of the way out of the bedroom and to the kitchen. Opening the fridge, I settle on some orange juice and pour a glass. Lightning again flashes and illuminates one of Cassidy’s drawings in the process. Unable to stop the smile from spreading, I pull the drawing off from the magnet securing it.

She drew the three of us at the playground, with me pushing her on a swing. Well, I assume it’s me. My hair appears to be blown out like an 80's rock band member, but the color is about right. I suppose it’s slightly better than the George Jetson hairstyle my husband is shown with. Oversize flowers cover the ground in the scale only children of a certain age capture, and I begin to think.

At what point will these whimsical drawings stop being made? Currently they flow like a running faucet, but will slow to a trickle, until they are just….no more. And yet, there is no way to mark this event. Just like so many other “last times” I never knew were the last time.

The last time I gave her a bottle.

The last time I swaddled her in a blanket.

The last time I rocked her to sleep.

Time marches forward, and I am so focused on the next stage, the next development, that I never mourn the last times. They just fade away, disappearing into the fabric of time. How do I hold on when there is no marker, no announcement that right now--this time—will be the last time?

An answer from the sky comes in the form of a torrent raining down. I echo the sentiment.

Lightning and thunder continue their game of tag, competing with one another until a victor can be called. I replace Cassidy’s drawing on the fridge door. Will this be the last time she seeks me as a refuge from a passing storm? Or will there be at least a few more?

Putting my empty glass in the sink, I head back to my bed to seize this moment. Even if it’s not the last moment, perhaps marking one of the next to last moments will suffice.

Gently moving her over, I slide back into the bed, and kiss her on the cheek. Her eyelashes flutter but she is deep asleep. This is the moment I will engrain in my mind.

Until twenty minutes later, when I am kicked and pushed by a sleeping, three-foot-tall terror taking up prime real estate in my bed. Holding onto the edge of the bed for dear life, I repeat to myself: I’m at peace, and can drift off to sl----

Until the dog starts howling and barking at the thunder, singing me the song of her people in some version of a dystopian lullabye.

Good night to all Mamas, and may you hold tight to the last times and—the edge of the bed.

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2 opmerkingen

I enjoyed "Hold Tight." It made me miss my now grown daughter.

Holly Bills
Holly Bills
11 jul. 2022
Reageren op

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it! Treasure the memories and the ones to come; I've found that even once they're grown, the last times still come. To a mother, it's a silent tragedy wrapped in pride as they make their own path.

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