Our days are made of moments. Each moment running into the next one until we pass another day. As mentioned in a previous post, Meredith is held about 75% of the time. She is in our arms, in her standing frame, stretched out on her floor bed or out on a walk in her wheelchair but mostly, she is cradled in the arms of one of the many who care for her.
You might imagine her sitting on my lap with her arm tucked in behind and her head against my chest, resting peacefully with her legs draped over my thighs and dangling towards the floor. You would be greatly mistaken.
I have been holding this child for exactly 8 years and 30 days. She is like an extension of me (and her father) and holding her is like a dance that we have rehearsed and perfected over the years. We intuitively anticipate her movements milliseconds before they happen. She throws her head back and we stop it with cat like reflexes. She curls her left arm up like a chicken wing as though she were about to throw a punch and we know that micro seconds later her she will thrust her pelvis outward. If you are not used to holding her, this particular move will have her launching off of your lap onto the floor if you are not ready for it. Her body and the way she moves it is as familiar as my own. When people are visiting, I can see their distraction as we converse. I know they are trying so very hard to stay focussed on the topic at hand and yet they are almost mesmerized by the consistent and fluid movements of our ‘dance.’ As they try to listen to what I am saying, I know that they must be thinking, “How is she able to wrestle with this child without even looking at her while holding a conversation?”
But sometimes in the late afternoon, when the planets have aligned (or something like that!), she will periodically lay her head against my chest and be snuggled into me, still and quiet except for the almost audible sound of her heart beating against my chest. And I will count….one steamboat, two steamboat, three steamboat and if I am lucky, I will get four steamboats before the left arm begins to curl and pull back and her body goes into what must be the billionth arch. I savour those “four steamboats” when she is still. It is in this moment that we are fully present.