I walk as quietly down our flight of 18 creaky old stairs as I am able, into the kitchen and to the counter where I start everyday.
It is Saturday, 6:30 a.m. I am waking up a little later than normal, but am ready to make coffee and get writing.
Within moments, I hear the padding feet of my three-year-old. Each of the girls has her own distinct morning stair padding pattern, and I know hers.
One-two. One-two. One-two. Pause to gather up tighter anything in her arms while she tries another grip at the railing. One-two. One-two. One-two.
Lala is carrying some of her favorite “pals” — oldest friend Lamby, Pillow Pet giraffe (a Christmas gift from big sister) and doggy blankie.
I approach her at the bottom of the steps.
“It’s early, sweetie. Time to snuggle with Papa.”
“No, Mama,” she says, “I want to cuddle with you.”
And her little voice and arms full of snuggly pals breaks me, and it echos through the stairwell.
“Okay, honey,” I cave, whispering. “Let’s go.”
I lift Lala into the bed, pull a piece of my pillow out for her little head, cover her with a sheet, down comforter and the homemade quilt Michael and I received when we married. I kick off my slippers and lay beside her.
She offers me blankets.
Lala makes a raspy morning “mmm” like all is right in this world here.
The other day I ask her over lunch, “What is your favorite thing in all the world?” Without hesitation, huge grin spread across little face, she answers, “Snuggling with my Papa.”
So many mornings while I write, this is their time.
Under these blankets on a Saturday morning, it’s cozy, us three.
“Your legs are so warm, Mama,” she says.
“Yours too, honey,” I say.
On the other side of Lala, Michael’s breath finds its morning rhythm.
My girl reaches rounded hands to my face and then puts hands around her blankie.
She stills, and I feel the rise and fall.
NPR pops into the space around us, and Roberta Flack is talking with Scott Simon.
I listen to her sing “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” and I know it’s probably a song about different love, but when I hear the words, this is how I adore her.
“The first time ever I saw your face, I thought the sun rose in your eyes. And the moon and the stars were gifts you gave to the dark and the endless skies.”
I remember the August afternoon when I first saw those eyes charcoal dark and singing light. And I think of the ways she brings joy light to pitch.
Lala’s eyes long blink, and she looks at me tender, then to the ceiling and says she sees sparkles.
This piece is a free-writing exercise for a Tuesday feature called “Just Write,” hosted on a blog called The Extraordinary Ordinary. I do this on Tuesdays whenever the mood strikes.