The air in the house is cold and dark and quiet at 6 in the morning. Without fail these days, I wake to the feeling of Madeleine trampling over my legs to crawl into the swirling warmth of the bed, nestled between me and her father. "Cuddle," she demands as she burrows under the blankets, curling her body into a warm little curve. This is my cue to unfurl myself so that she can lay on my shoulder and I can wrap my other arm around her. It amazes me that her long, skinny frame, all angles and strength, can soften enough to fit against me so perfectly, even now. Just as when she was a baby, and her small body fit perfectly into the nest of my arms, or my eye against the curve of her head, or her head in the curve of my neck, legs pulled up beneath her.
The morning has another start when I walk down the hall to get Violet out of bed. She's usually still asleep. It's warmer in the girls' room and she's still burrowed underneath mounds of covers. The best thing is that I say, "Good morning," softly, and she gives a huge stretch and blinks the sleep from her eyes. "Good morning, mama," she says in her sweet little chirp of a voice, and I sit on her bed and hold out my arms. "Good morning hug?" I ask and she drapes herself against my body, still heavy with dreams and the last of night clinging to her. "I love you," I say, and she says, "I love you, too, mama," with such genuine sincerity. And then she's ready to go, wide awake, the day a grand stretch of possibility laid out for the taking.
I follow her down the hall, bones heavy and creaky, still not quite awake myself. I'm tired, weary in the deepest part of me, but still grateful. Grateful to witness love and light in so many ways, contained in these two girls, in all its hopeful forms.