The first time Leila ever had a fever, she was 15 months old. It happened about two seconds after she started daycare. I held her limp body in my arms as her baby hair tickled my cheeks and chin. I kissed her forehead, held my mouth there, felt the skin burning underneath it.
It lasted two days. We took her to the hospital, as first-time parents are want to do, afraid for her. Afraid of her flushed cheeks, her tear-less cries, her hoarse cough. We were thoroughly brushed off by the doctor, who quipped about the number of colds children contract in a year. She was dosed with Tylenol and sent home. And I rocked her, wrapped in her baby quit. I rocked her all night, too afraid to leave her, to place her in her crib. I slept with her, on the chair, the way I would was she was a newborn and nursed for so long through the night.
It was never so scary as that first time, and I thought of the parents we were as I fed her sips of cold apple juice, bites of popsicles, spoonfuls of applesauce today. I look at her, laying hazy eyed on the couch across the room and can gauge the severity of her sickness by the colour of her cheeks and eyes. These are mother’s tricks, half learned, half inherent knowledge. My lips to her forehead tell me if the fever is mild or severe. My touch calms her as she half-heartedly wails in discomfort.
That’s how you’ll know, my mother told me once, When she’s 15 and angry and won’t talk, that’s how you’ll know something’s wrong. Because you just KNOW her.
And know her I do. My sweet, kind angel with a heart of innocence mixed with love.
We prayed together tonight, as we always do. And after Now I lay me, I said quietly into her ear, Please take care of Leila and help her body fight off the bugs inside of her. And as we laid there quietly, I could feel her heat seeping into my body, and I thought of how I bring with me safety and peace and the tangible proof that the world, her world, is safe. It’s all in my hands, in my tender touch. And I thought how very lucky we are to have each other.
How very lucky we are, indeed.