Holding her close to his heart, near stumbling at times in his own exhaustion, he whispered comfort into her tiny ear. Rocked her gently. Danced with her. Told her fairy tales and stories of his own invention. Sang to her off-key, half-remembered nursery tunes and what he’d heard that day on the radio.
Her tears seem to go on forever. Fed … warm … dry … what could make a baby cry so?
But she is so tiny in his arms. So helpless – a small soul in a big, frightening world. He can forget his frustration as he gazes at her tiny perfection – this creature who so mysteriously was part of him and now must make her way in the world.
As dawn begins to spread across the sky and he wonders how much longer he will make it this night, her sobbing begins to abate. She grows heavy in his arms … her eyelids sag. She lets out a few final whimpers … she sleeps.
He lays her down and though he feels he could fall asleep where he’s standing, he takes a few more moments to watch over her rest.
Not many hours from now, he will go to work, and in the night when she begins to cry again, he will walk the floor with her for hours.
Now she is grown, with a child of her own. Through – and often in spite of – all that has happened since then, she carries the love of those walks in her bones … so deep sometimes she’s not even sure it’s still there – but it remains.
And when her little girl cries in the night, she closes her eyes and holds her in that same love. So the cycle continues …