Two versions of a short winter poem
A poem for the winter solstice


I'm reading in bed when I hear a cry from your room. I put down my book, tilt my head, and hold perfectly still -- as though any of those would help me hear. When the cry comes again, I head toward it. "Hey, hey, honey, I'm here, what's the matter?"

You are sitting up in your bed, face tear-streaked, worried that it's too late at night and we've missed our chance to do something you really want to do tomorrow. I reassure you that it's okay, we haven't missed anything, it's time to sleep now, we'll do that thing after we wake up. "After this day," you confirm. "Then it will be Wednesday?" I tell you you've got it exactly right, and with a sigh you burrow into my shoulder.

We rock a while in the gliding rocker. You are heavy and warm against my chest and across my lap. I can feel your breathing.

We don't do this very often anymore. My arms don't fit snugly around you the way they used to. You're folded over me like a blanket. To think that you were once the newborn with whom I rocked so many endless hours -- it seems almost impossible, except that I've seen your transformation from then to now.

I am grateful that rocking in my arms still brings you comfort.

I know that someday you will have worries I can't solve with a kiss and a cuddle.

Or -- I hope that you will have those worries. Does that sound strange? What I mean is, I hope and pray that I will have the gift and privilege of supporting you as you navigate growing up, even though growing up will mean that you'll have problems I can't fix. I know there's no guarantee that anyone gets as much time as they dream of. I can't hold you, kiss you, stroke your hair this week without remembering that I have friends who are right now grieving the loss of a child only a few years older than you.

I wish I could bottle up the comfort you find now in my arms, and save it to give to you later in life when a hug from Mom won't have this same magic. I wish I could bottle up the comfort you find in my arms and share it with everyone who needs comfort tonight, including -- especially -- my friends who mourn.

I ask if you're ready for bed, and you nod. "Will you carry me?" I promise you that nothing would make me happier. You're giggling as I deposit you on your bed and tuck your Thomas blanket around your shoulders.

I am so glad to be able to carry you. I will always be carrying you.