God of all comfort, stay away from my baby?


I start my job, and she starts quaking again. Six months, maybe more, have passed since the last seizure, so long that I've forgotten the weight of the worry you wear like a heavy winter blanket around your shoulders all day long. I carry her with me to work, carry her heavy and set on vibrate in my pocket in the form of a cell phone, jump whenever it goes off...all just false alarms. I run out of class to answer all the calls from the hospital prefix, and the operators reminding me of upcoming appointments probably wonder at my sigh of relief followed by snappish, I can't talk now, sorry, I'm at work. Mentally, I wipe the sweat collected on my brain's brow, she's not in the hospital, everything is quiet and okay for now.

She seizes mostly in the evening and at night, and I wake with her, cycling like we did when she was a baby, every 2 hours or so. I grit my teeth and bear it, hold the party line when my husband shoos her off to her own bed at 9 p.m., aching to hold her, know she's okay. Sync my breathing with hers, know her breath is still coming, regular and true and deep. I hold him instead, and sleep light, as if the mattress is made of pins, until she creeps into bed with us around midnight, grasps my hand, and I fall deeper, peaceful now to the rhythm of her sucking on her "nuksie".

Sometimes I wonder if I should be tougher. But I wasn't made of the stern stuff. I have more playful and more lenience in bones that feel so old sometimes. I rest on the blue chair in the afternoons like a grandma and watch the children dance in the living room in the falling rays. Sunbeam babies in halcyon days, spectator mama laughing at antics till dinner.

She tells me Jesus came, two nights ago. She's told me this only twice before, once shortly after her brain infection that held her in a hammock hovering over death's yawning darkness, the great river that separates us from those we love until we, too, swim into the night and cross to the light. She was only three then, and I didn't answer much, just listened. Then at 4 1/2, after a 2 hour seizure in the ER, she told me of Him again, the same Jesus with His yellow hair and happy face and blue clothes and funny belt and feet that glow. This time He brought her angel to play with her and make her laugh, because He knew how scared she was. Her angel has orange hair, spiky, and she has wings but she doesn't fly, she dances and spins and flips about on the floor in a funny way that makes sick girls hovering in some unconscious abyss laugh. Her angel laughs like a thousand bells and when she smiles, her whole face smiles. Now this third time, she comes to me, with the story of the angel and Jesus, the same story, and she is only a month shy of 6 now.

I can't ignore the yellow-haired Jesus with His blue clothes and the orange spiky haired angel who dances and smiles with her whole face. Because for 3 whole years now she's said the same things. And always the same: when they come to her, they come to comfort and make her laugh when she is sad and scared because she can't be with me. Is this heaven, I wonder? Not that we forget, but that we are comforted, and we are loved, we can stand it until the others get here to be with us again? Does time tick slowly like when you can't sleep on Christmas Eve, or does it fly by like when you're sleeping on a regular old night cuddling someone you love?

She looks up at me, face glowing, radiant, full of Jesus, and she brushes tears from my cheeks. She laughs and says, Isn't it beautiful, Mama? Aren't you glad Jesus comes for me? And it is a sour, hollow lump in my throat. Oh, how I want to be thankful. But oh, how I want to keep you, my girl! I don't know what Jesus coming means. I don't like seizures and I don't like you needing comfort from anyone but me.

But what will happen to a warrioress who has laughed with her angel and smiled at Jesus three whole times, and remembers? What will this child carry into the world, for whatever time she is aflame in our world? How can I be jealous of time and the Creator of life?

I hold her tentatively to my chest, feeling her energy pulse rhythmic like the singing of a star. Warm like a campfire just lit between the palms on an autumn night. So alive. And it is I, older and wiser one?, who comes away comforted.

imperfect prose