I rocked with you tonight
I breathed in the Johnson & Johnson smell of your soft hair
The peach fuzz that stubbornly returned
After chemo had claimed everything but your laughter
It moves as I exhale.
I wanted to snuggle
To pretend you were still brand new and vulnerable
When nothing could calm you except your pacifier and swaddle blanket
Before you were diagnosed
But you won't have it.
You would rather fight
And sit up and twist around and smile in my face
The wide toothless smile only an infant can master melts my heart
Begging me to put off your bed time
And get on the floor and play.
Common sense tells me you need to sleep
Your body needs to rest, to regenerate
The cells that were killed off, and the nutrients you lost
When you couldn't eat because of the nausea
That no amount of medicine would help.
When I look at your tiny cherub face
I wish I could still see the innocence of your youth
That has instead been replaced by the solemnity of facing your own mortality
Cancer has robbed you of your babyhood forever
Before you even realized you had one.
But my mothers intuition argues this
It says set her down and make her happy
Don't check the clock, don't replace the pacifier that fell out when she grinned
Make silly noises and tell secrets
Giggle until there is no room for worry.
She might be tired in the morning
And there are more exhausting days to come
But I refuse to let cancer take this away from us
When it has taken so much already
You can nap tomorrow, and we can have tonight.
Kristi M. Rufener