On those nights she sleeps between us, a warm soft bundle of love. She's such a tiny little girl she shares my pillow. I'm not sure when it happens but early on she'll gently worm her way inside my arms and snuggle. This pleases me.
It's difficult for me, sleep. It takes forever for my mind to allow the peace of rest to approach and shut out the demons of life. So I'm alert to her sleep patterns. As I wake, through out the night, I give gentle butterfly kisses and place my cheek to hers and listen and wait.
It always begins with her throwing out her arms, a jerk, a soft soul searing moan. Sometimes, a very very barely audible, "Oh, Papa." or "Nana." Then she'll begin to cry. This, does not please me. It rips out my heart.
I speak as soft as possible directly into her ear, "It's okay, Sweetheart, Papa's here, you're safe." And I use that 'shushing' sound in an attempt to lull her back to sleep. I kiss her and stroke her little arms. And, all the while asking God, why...why....why.
Most of the time my efforts work. She'll let out a gentle, 'ah' and return to dream land. Sometimes she takes my hand in hers and whispers, 'Papa.' I hold her tight and ask the Almighty to give this child, this angel, peace.
Many nights after these sessions I glance over and see her Nana wide awake with a look of sorrow in her eyes. We'll both stroke her, apply those butterfly kisses she so enjoys...."Papa, butterfly kisses are the way I know you love me."
She sleeps alone when she's away from us. Even now I hear her cries of nightly terror.
They haunt me.