I’m not the only one in my family who’s been hit hard by the pollen in Nashville this spring. For me, it has aggravated my asthma to the point that the medication doesn’t seem to be doing anything to help. I can’t run more than a mile without chest pain that feels like a truck is parked on my solar plexus. For J, it’s allergies. He’s walking around sounding like a dog choking on a bone…a dry, hacking cough, and sinus congestion that makes him feel terrible. His snoring has escalated to decibels that rattle the windows. On a good day (without pollen), he snores, I nudge him, he rolls over and stops for a little while. Usually that happens 2-3 times per night, and I can fall asleep in between the snoring, and hopefully stay asleep most of the night. But now, he is snoring on his back, on his side, and even when he falls asleep sitting up. He’s waking himself up several times a night. And when I try to nudge him to turn over, his attitude is, to say the least, not very accommodating. Last night he decided to sleep in the guest room so both of us could get a good night’s sleep.
I was sitting in bed, reading, when H came downstairs and said, “Daddy is worried that you might be lonely. Can I sleep with you?” I thought about it for half a second, but pulled the covers back, patted the bed next to me, and she jumped in. I turned off the reading light and snuggled up next to her, a smile on my face. Memories of moments from her childhood, when she had nightmares, or couldn’t sleep, or just wanted to be with us, when she’d walk into the bedroom and ask if she could “cuddle” for a little while. She’d wiggle in between us, put one little hand on me, and the other on J, and the “little while” often turned into all night. I usually didn’t sleep well on those nights. When she was really little, I worried all night that I’d roll over and wake her up. As she got older, and more accustomed to sleeping alone in a queen sized bed, sleeping with her growing limbs all over the place became like sleeping in a bowl of spaghetti. I was constantly lifting arms and legs off my chest and putting them back in her space. So as she got older (and so did I), I felt we all needed a good night’s sleep more than she needed to “cuddle”. So we started sending her back to her bed. It wasn’t until last night, when I woke up in the middle of the night with her 16- year-old LEG (yes, her leg) smacking me in the face, that I remembered just how much I loved those everyday moments. On those nights when she was snuggling in next to us, J would reach over her head, rub my hair and we’d both look at each other and H and smile. Everything was alright. We were together.
I take lots of pictures of my family. I have boxes and books full of photos from special moments. Vacations. Recitals. Graduations. Birthdays. I don’t have so many of those regular, forgettable moments. The times spent together doing nothing special. The naps together, jumping in the McDonald’s play area on a Tuesday afternoon together, reading at night before bed, brushing teeth together, weekday meals together at the table in the kitchen, watching TV, walking the dog, picking out groceries, wrapping gifts, packing lunches, shopping for a new backpack, playing the ‘alphabet game’ on a family hike together, taking a temperature when someone’s sick, wiping away tears when a friend disappoints you, the list goes on and on. It’s those every day moments that I treasure more than the special occasions. The ones I wish I’d taken more photos of. Every once in awhile the camera would be conveniently sitting nearby when something happened and I’d take a photo…H taking photos with her first camera, H and J falling asleep while watching TV, J teaching H how to shoot a free throw. I will always remember those moments when I see the photos. But those other moments, the ones I didn’t photograph? I’ll remember them when I least expect it. When she’s not around. When we have a typical mother/teenage daughter argument. I remember washing her hair in the bathtub with the “Baby Bop” cup pouring water over her head to rinse out the shampoo…”Sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle…RAIN!!!” I remember thinking she was finally eating a cheeseburger (even when she hated meat from the time she was a little girl), and then seeing the pieces of meat sprinkled on the floor around her chair. I remember her walking out on stage at a show at Opryland when she was 3 years old and standing front and center while the show continued to go on and she smiled the whole time, thinking she was supposed to be there. I wish I’d had a camera then. But those memories are as sharp as any photo could ever be. I just never know when I’m going to see them.