I patted her back until her breathing became audible and even.
The green-leaf patterned blanket that has wrapped around my three precious girls is smooth and soft between my hand and her perfect still-baby skin.
I feel the peaceful weight of this nearly two year old gift. I watch her sleep, her face all rest and peace.
I remember last night, looking through old pictures on the computer, and how the time all seems a blur, all passing so quickly.
This year, nearly every day of the entire year, has been challenging, exhausting, heartbreaking, difficult.
But I haven't wished a single day away.
Not when I've been ill. Not when this pregnancy renders me unable to simultaneously speak and keep down my meals, resulting in some very challenging days of attempting mothering, and life, without much speech.
Not when relationships have been heartbreaking and work days have been entirely too long and frustrating.
Not even when I struggled with not having a safe home base, or any control over the course of my life.
All because of a dream that shook me awake to reality.
Many dreams, actually.
Since the first months I was pregnant with the Littlest, that would be about March of 2011, I've had recurring dreams that she was going to die while she was a baby.
It didn't help that the husband had a similar dream.
In one dream I was even given a date, August 9th.
Can I tell you how blessed I feel that it is September 2nd and my little darling is still alive and well? Can I tell you how every single day of her life I have seen her as a gift?
Sometimes when she was screaming, I'd thank God that she had the strength and breath to do so. Even in the middle of the most exhausting nights I'd sometimes walk with her and say a prayer of thanks for the extra time alone with just her.
All the time, she is a gift to me.
And those dreams were heart-wrenching and they made my throat burn with tears held back and I couldn't get out of them and I couldn't shake them after I'd woken up... but they helped me love my kids well on the days when I thought I might lose my sanity.
They helped me deal head-on with fear and the One whose perfect love casts out every fear. I have not been able to escape the reality that every person I love in is a temporary body, with an eternal soul, that I impact every day with my words and love and attention... or the lack of those things.
Those dreams made me keenly aware of the preciousness of first-time things and that all things might be last-time things and the reality of an ending made me hold on hard to moments, to experience them all fully, and not let them slip by too quickly.
Those dreams made me realize, over and over, that I own, I posses, nothing but Christ... but I am a steward to many, many precious people and things.
Those dreams helped me forgive my husband when I didn't want to, because I was reminded that every time he comes home, that is a gift. Every time we fall asleep next to each other is a gift. Each time he scoops up one of our children and kisses them until they laugh so hard they can't catch their breath... gift. He is such a gift to me.
Those horrible, recurring, loss-filled dreams have kept me from wasting so much time on myself, the past, or the future. The reality that now is temporary, and later is not guaranteed, has been before me every time I see her sweet face.
So maybe today you need to hug a kid you haven't for a while?
Maybe today you need to forgive your spouse?
Maybe today you need to listen to words someone shares with you like they might be the last?
Maybe you'll make dinner differently?
Maybe you'll take the time to tuck in your kids and prayer over them?
Maybe you'll slow down enough to make eye contact?
Maybe today you need to talk to the Author of time, to learn how to best use it?
I'm praying for us today... that we will see all the gifts, slow down and enjoy them.
I'm praying that today we will say "I love you" and "thank You, God."
Thank You, God.