Shhh, I whisper in her ear. Not a soft whisper, though. Agressive. A command.
I'm a white noise machine. A loud one, at that. I pause only to inhale.
Louder: SHHHHH. SHHHHH. Breath.
I pull her close and stroke her arm. Back and forth and back and forth and back and forth with my fingertips. With my index finger I trace a line from her brow down the center of her nose. Over and over and over, firmly down the bridge, the way they hypnotize chickens, my uncle told me once. All the while I'm blaring SHHHHH into her ear, using my hands to steady her.
I'm bigger than anything that could hurt you. You can trust me, and you can let go. Let go. No more crying. Sleep.
SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. I exhale, one last breath against her soft still-crying whimper.
It works. I feel her body relax against mine. A warm dew collects on her forehead. She radiates soft smell from her hair. She's still.
She's ten today, but our dance of comfort remains the same. It's been years--how many?--since I sang I See The Moon to calm her crying. Or, Edelweiss to distract her to sleep. Yet this afternoon, as she cries out from her room that her headache hurts too bad, the lights are too bright, the lyrics are on my lips before I can think them.
The singing, the shushing, the holding all trigger something deep inside her. Our link is genetic, but we're tied together at this place of Mommy/Ad comfort. She reacts unconsciously just as she did when she was small enough to fit tight against my body in a single bundle.
All day I've been thinking she's so big. I've been wondering where my baby went, how she's suddenly old and foreign.
When she was an infant, people used to stare at me and E as we wrapped her right in a blanket and loudly shushed in her ear: the shout-whisper we'd repeat ad infinitum as we'd walk and pound her steadily on the back. Addie liked aggressive comforting.