Last night, as I rocked Tori to sleep, she asked me to sing to her. We sang “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” Rock-a-Bye Baby,” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” just like we always do.
But before I could lay her down in her crib and tuck her covers around her, there was one more I had to sing.
“The sunshine song, mommy. I need the sunshine song,” she said.
Kissing her head, I obliged:
“You are my sunshine
my only sunshine.
You make me happy
when skies are grey.
You’ll never know dear
how much I love you,
Please don’t take my sunshine away.”
My voice cracked on the last sentence, and when I kissed her good night, there were tears in my eyes. I was thinking about all the moms who lost their babies (because, grown up or not, I’m pretty sure we’re always our mothers’ babies) on that horrible September day ten years ago. And how many children lost the parents they counted on to keep the clouds from their skies.
I can’t imagine their pain. I hope I never have to.
I was lucky that day. I mean, yeah, like everyone, I lost a certain amount of faith. Gained a fair amount of cynicism. And a new worldview—one much less hopeful than before.
But I was able to return to my normal life. With everyone I knew and loved still around me. I didn’t have to see the crumbled towers with my own eyes. Didn’t have to post missing person signs, or comb hospitals for loved ones, or worse, bury my heart in the ground next to my husband or children.
I was lucky.
So, as I tucked Tori into bed, the sounds of the fighter jets we watched circle overhead earlier in the day still ringing in my ears, I silently thanked God for all that I have, and sent up a little prayer for those who lost everything.
Then I kissed her forehead and walked to the door to turn out the light. But before I could make my escape, she stirred.
“I love you, mommy,” she said, crinkling her face into an enormous smile.
“I love you more.”
“Mmm-hmmm,” she replied, and abruptly collapsed into sleep.
Please. Don’t ever take my sunshine away.