Tonight Natalie reached both arms around my neck as I lay in bed next to her, tucking her in for the night. Her little hands clasped each other tightly as her arms completely hugged my neck. We lay there together just like that as she slowly drifted into sleep. And unlike other nights when I would be quicker to depart to return to the to-do’s of the kitchen and the house, tonight I just lay there. I soaked it up. I told myself, “hold onto this memory. This is a treasure forever. Hold onto this picture in your memory as tightly as she is holding onto your neck right now. Hold on. Don’t let this slip away.” This is the first time Natalie has held onto me like that. Over dinner I explained how I would be gone for the week and all the details of who will be caring for her while I will be gone. So tonight as she went to bed she was extra loving and extra hopeful of a sweet, tight embrace. She doesn’t want me to leave. Or she wants me to take her with me.
In the midst of that, my emotions started to well up. Tomorrow morning I leave for a flight to New York City. When I booked this flight, I was so careful not to book my return flight out of NY on 9/11. How could I? It’s the 10-year anniversary of that awful day in our country’s history. What are the chances that as we all mournfully remember that tragedy, that somehow somewhere a second awful catastrophe will occur? It has crossed my mind, considering that it was only months ago that Osama Bin Laden was captured and killed. Will there be some form of revenge? Oh goodness, too much for my mind to try to think about. And, yet, tonight with my face pressed up against the smooth, soft skin of my sweet little Natalie, I couldn’t help but wonder and really hope that I will indeed be able to return on Friday and hold her like this once again. I am praying and hoping for a safe flight back home to my family at the end of this week. Oh Lord please, I pray.