Night before last I was the last one up to bed. I was typing away down here, putting away the last dishes, and, of course, playing with the kittens. By the time I went up I was bleary eyed and ready to drop. I plunked my phone on the bedside table and then walked down to the bathroom. After washing my face and brushing my teeth I padded down the hall to Fin and Ave.

Ave had rolled and tucked deep inside the blankets, a thatch of dark hair covering one eye. I nuzzled her face, brushing the hair aside as I whispered, “Mama loves you.” She stirred, pressing a hand against my face, “Mmmmama.” My eyes crinkled, I pivoted to Finley. She was propped up against her giant koala bear, the only thing that seems to work in combatting the cough she gets each winter. I kissed her silky cheek and propped the arms of the koala with her pillows, a furry hug.

I walked to Briar’s room to check that her iPhone alarm was set for 6:35. Then a quick tug of the blanket to make sure she was covered and I’d slip out, careful not to wake her. Kisses or whispers alway disrupt her sleep, so only on the neediest of nights do I dare risk it. I was heading out the door when a notebook caught my eye.

It isn’t unusual for her to have things on the floor, sometimes out of disorganization, other times out of very specific design. I knelt down to look. There was writing on the page and a pencil tucked in the edge. I squinted, my contacts out and my phone gone. I thought it said mom. She stirred. I slipped down the hall for my phone.

Walking back I shone the ambient light toward the notebook. Sure enough, she’d left me a note. The last few days have been a concentrated gauntlet of absent Tooth Fairy, dubious Santa mentions, and soberingly jaded asides. I’m not kidding when I say that my hands shook. What if I hadn’t looked? Gosh, how often have I not looked? I set my phone down and started writing an answer, complete with a line about how sloppy I write in the dark.

Then this morning I had to leave the house just past 6 to get to a meeting. I’d made the lunches the night before, set all the alarms, and let the girls know I’d see them at pick up. Tonight as I was making dinner Briar said, “Hey mom, thanks for writing back to my note.”

Casual, light, a twist of whatever with an undertone of “I love you so much, mommy.”

“Sure, sweets. Thanks for leaving one for me.” She looked at me with her hair over one eye and beamed as if she was looking at the first snow.



Sometimes not looking for your own signs and being aware of one that someone else left, is the greatest gift. So grateful.