I’m on my way to bed, but I leave the hall light on for a moment to tiptoe into her room. Every night I do this right before bed, sneak into their rooms one last time, my light kiss on the head a prayer to the universe to keep them always safe.
On impulse, this night, I climb into her bed and curl my body around her sleeping form. Her long legs are tangled in the sheets and her thumb has just fallen from her mouth, a little girl habit held onto only at bedtime. I press my lips to her hair and breathe deeply. She smells of chlorine and sweat and little girl summer and the plea leaps, unbidden, into my mind.
I have broken so many things along this journey. Please, please don’t let her be one of them.
And for the millionth time I make a silent promise to be better, more patient, more loving, every last little thing she deserves. My only hope that she will find herself whole at the end.