When I heard the music of the phone it took me waking seconds to realize it was her song. And there it was - in only the time it takes a heart to beat or a breath to leave - that knowledge. That fear. It comes so quick and it has come so often it surprises me that it startles anew each time. But it does. Startles me into awareness of fragile things.
Her number was above 400 and I remain calm and we talk each other through a few moments while we wait for it to come down.
Can I tell you a secret?
I used to practice staying calm. When I was alone I would practice words out loud. Rehearse the words that would assure her while I was near to a panic but practice out loud so she wouldn't see.
But I don't think it worked.
I think she saw and sees through me.
It seems silly. To practice staying calm. To sit in bed at night and practice words out loud because that was the only time quiet all day and I couldn't sleep anyway.
And I sit here tonight watching the clock tick time away. Four more minutes before I can call again for the third fifteen minutes and see what sugar is. Sugar. What a strange word for what could take my child any day at any time.
Bring it down Jesus bring it down Jesus bring it down Jesus.
Two more minutes.
One more minute.
There's a little hole in the wall at the children's clinic. Not very big, just big enough for a phone on a tiny shelf and a seat for mamas whose knees aren't holding. He took me to it and told me to call her daddy so he could come. And holding that phone, wetness between the receiver and my face, I said the word for the first time.
And that began what was another first day of the rest of my life.
I just waited an extra four minutes. Made myself keep typing while eyes kept shifting to that little clock at the corner of the screen and made myself believe she had fallen asleep and that is why her song wasn't playing.
And she had. Number now 385 an hour later and why does it take so long to come down?
I tell her I love her and she says I love you, Mama. Instinct causes my other hand to reach for my phone as if I could touch her face through it. Shouldn't a mama's touch heal?
I hang up and there it is. That nagging little thought I fight to pray aside.
Don't let it go too low Jesus don't let it go too low Jesus don't let it go too low Jesus.
Now I'll go to bed and resist the urge to call several more times and sleepless nights were easier when her head lay only feet from mine.