Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Sometimes, I am able to see the "big picture..."

Mommy, my chest feels weird. Kinda like my heart can't beat or it's beating harder or something.

(giving her a hug) Oh, you probably overdid it today. That happens to me sometimes. Go ahead and get back in bed. After the boys are settled, I'll come in and snuggle you.

::get boys all finished with "one more potty trip" and in bed for good::

How are you feeling now, Sugar?

Well, my chest feels heavy still and my arm hurts right here, too. It's weird.

(trying to mask worried face) So, your chest feels heavy and your left arm hurts...

Yeah, it feels kind of like someone is pressing on me from the front and back. And my arm hurts, but just right here in this spot (pointing to the back side of her upper arm). ..

(strained smile, desperately attempting to hide the panic rising in my throat) Okay, well, lay down and let me go look some stuff up in my books and I will be back up in a minute.

::go downstairs and search bookcase for Taking Care of Your Child book. Look up heart problems...nothing, look up chest pain, read that it is most likely anxiety, confirming what I suspected most, and quelling, at least a little, my greatest fear::

Sweetie, how are you? Feeling any better?

I don't know. I just feel weird. ..

I think that you have just been feeling a lot of stress lately. We have a lot going on right now and so much coming up. All of this change can be hard to deal with, huh?

Yeah, that's true. And N (her ultra-moody friend next door) hasn't been very nice lately.

All of that really adds up. Maybe you just need to get a good night's sleep. And if you still feel like this tomorrow, we'll go to the doctor if you want.

Okay. But now I won't be able to sleep because my mind won't stop thinking.

Well, how about if I find you a nice, relaxing CD to listen to, would that help?

Yeah, it might. Thank you, Mommy. I love you.

I love you, too, Angel Girl. More than anything in the whole wide world.

So this is how my evening went. I have been so tired all week. And while I have tried to keep my grouchies in check, sometimes they have really come through. But tonight, everything was put in perspective for me, if only for a moment.

Logically, I knew that SugarPlum wasn't having a heart attack. But, geez, all those health classes over the years have ingrained in me that that "heavy chest, pain in the left arm" meant heart attack. Fortunately, SD remained calm throughout my desperate search through the book. He assured me that if I thought I needed to take her to the ER, he'd be here with the boys. Eventually, I settled down and went up to comfort her.

Then I went and laid down in my bed and read a magazine for a few minutes. But I couldn't keep my eyes open, so I turned off the light at about 9:45 and went to sleep. For an hour.

I woke up from the most horrible dream. I had gone to wake SugarPlum up in the morning and she had died. I lay there in bed, telling myself, "She's fine, go back to sleep," but of course it was no use. I would start to doze off and think of what I would do if she wasn't with me anymore. I thought about how it felt to hold her as a baby. Her little smile when I would say to her in my sing-song voice, "Mommy loves SugarPlum." Because, I can assure you, that smile could light up a room. Then I chided myself for criticizing her smile today, telling her not to curl her top lip up under like that. Am I ruining her?

I feel like all I do anymore is complain about her, not taking the time to appreciate the loving, giving, wonderful young lady she is becoming. Why can't I praise her for all of the hard work she does and for how she is always the one who sticks up for the underdog, sits next to the girl who always sits alone, is the first person to offer a smile (a beautiful, radiant one) and a hug to the friend who is having a bad day? Why must I nit-pick until she has to leave the room, almost in tears? Why don't I tell her more how proud she makes me every single day of her life? How I admire her willingness to take risks, to try to shoot that basket, kick that goal, try out for the musical, the spelling bee. She is the smartest, most courageous person I have ever known. I need to tell her that more.

And what would my life be without her? For so many years it was her and me against the world. SD would be deployed to the Middle East or working long hours in a fighter squadron and SugarPlum and I made our way through it together. Lots of times she was my reason for getting out of bed. I look back and I treasure those four and a half years that we had - just us girls. After Bear was born, she was such a huge help and demanded so little for herself.

Her smile and her usually optimistic attitude have gotten me through some really tough times. I frequently call her my "Sunshine" or my "Silver Lining Girl." When I have questioned an assignment (unhappily), she will remind me that "God always sends us where He knows we need to be!" How can one so young be so wise? If anything happened to my SugarPlum, I'm just not sure how I would be able to go on.

And so, I climbed out of bed and walked across the hall to her room. I laid down next to her and, wrapping my arms around her, marveled at how long and lean and strong she has become. I remember laying in bed with her nine years ago, her tiny, blanket sleeper clad body lying atop me. I hold her tight and just feel her heartbeat, steady and strong, her breath slow and deep. I breathe in her scent, now so different yet still uniquely her. And I thank God once again for the miracle that is my little girl. And I pray that she will always be around to make me crazy, to make me angry and to make me appreciate what she is.

I love you my Angel Girl, I whisper. More than anything else in the whole wide world.

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