It’s nearly eleven on a warm Sunday night.
Not really a warm Sunday night. A hot Sunday night.
Sweat slips down the center of my back. I don’t really mind. It’s the coolest thing that’s touched my skin all day. Everything is warmed over. We don’t have an air conditioner. People keep telling me it never really gets hot enough for it. I wish they’d spent less time telling me and more time telling today. Because today missed the memo.
The girls went to bed whimpering about the heat, their hair plastered around their faces, melted halos framing cherub cheeks.
Mom, it’s too hot.
I emptied the ice trays into plastic bags and arranged them around those good girls, a little frozen trim for my burning angels. And then, for good measure, more bags of ice on top of their legs and chests. Their legs that keep getting longer and their chests that keep breathing more deeply. They were each given an ice cube to rub on the their faces.
Sometimes sensation binds us as surely as experience.
For just a moment, I could feel myself as a little girl in a hot dark room. My mom whispering that everything will be okay and we’ll buy a fan tomorrow. My little fingers clenched around the ice cube. It leaves water along my hairline and cheeks and neck as I move it around and around while I wonder what will happen tomorrow and whether we’ll go on a walk in the morning or afternoon or maybe the library and did I remember to close up my markers after I was done coloring and maybe we can…and then it’s morning and my face is dry, the bags of ice are bags of water and I suppose must have slept through the heat after all.
It may all seem silly. All this feeling as if you're someone else. And perhaps it is. But, to me, our momentary ability to feel the experiences of our fellow mortals smacks of the profound. And I feel awe that something as simple as an overheated day has given me a moment of communion with my daughters. These girls that are so much a part of me and so much more the better part of themselves.
As I leave their room and pause at the top of the stairs, I pray to God that I’ll be given that same empathetic insight when they really, really need me to have it.
Please God. Let me feel what they feel, see what they see, understand as they understand. When the things they face are more consuming than hot nights and require more relief than anything I can hold in my too small hands. Let me. Please, let me.
And in the absence of all that, when they’ve journeyed to places higher than I can reach or traveled further than I’ve yet thought, let them let me love them. And let us be bound by the things we do not share just as surely as we are by the things we do. Let us. Please, let us.
Then, I bless their room with my heart and the stairs that lead away from it with my feet. And go to bed with an ice cube in my hands. It leaves water along my hairline and cheeks and neck as I move it around and around and wonder will happen tomorrow.