Last Night


I had try to inject fun into our night in the name of entertainment, having a bath time yelling contest to see who of us could tell Daddy downstairs they loved him the loudest, purposely picking out mismatched pajamas, and indulging my toddler with Christmas cookies. When it was time for bed, though, we settled down with a book, and everything seemed calm. I sat E.V. facing me in my lap for prayers, making up hand motions so she could follow along as we recited out vespers. We sang together, our own off-key versions of “Red River Valley” and “As the Deer.” The night was winding down, but E.V. was not ready to call it a night.

Instead, she spent the next hour in her crib wailing and screaming and begging. It was awful. Awful. Ryan and I took turns popping in and out trying to soothe her, to calm her, but she was inconsolable. Eventually we resolved to let her cry it out, something we haven’t really done since she was a baby. She cried for water. She begged for a movie. She yelled to get out. She screamed.


I could no longer take it. The terror and desperation in her voice pierced my heart. The idea that she would be in dire trouble and call for me and me alone struck my core and reverberated back into my ears so loudly that I could no longer stand her cries.

So I went in and picked up my desperate child and held her close to me. Her runny nose made her sniffle pitifully and her cause for tears was over, but they were still coming. She laid her heavy head on my shoulder and grasped onto me with fearful little fingers.

I’m not going to put you down, E.V. I promise. It’s okay. It’s okay.

As I chanted “it’s okay” softly in her ear, I lowered myself into her playchair. And there I sat with her in my arms. As her tears subsided, she huffed a deep breath and rolled over to lay back-to-belly on me.

In the halflight, I sat. I sat with the weight of her tiny body bearing down on mine, my arms wrapped around her torso, her legs tangled with mine. Her breath sputtered a bit as she calmed down. I fully expected her to wiggle or attempt to get out of my lap, but instead she sighed and settled in. Her exhaustion was heavy on me, like a victim finally rescued from death’s grip and resting with her rescuer. We sat in silence for a while, for a long while. The click of the fan above us was the only indication of time.

Click. Click. Click.

As I held her, I began to think of her desperate pleas for help.

E.V., I love you. Sometimes you’re going to have to walk alone in life, but remember I’ll always be there with you.


To my surprise, she was listening. She was listening, and she understood. I burst into silent tears and squeaked out the rest of my thoughts, each one ending with a a tiny “uh-huh” from my sleepy child.

E.V., I never leave you. I’m always here for you, okay?


Even when you think you’re alone, Mommy’s with you.


Sometimes in life, it’ll be hard, and you’re going to feel alone, but you’re not. I’ll be with you. 


I love you, E.V. Do you love me?


My face was soaked, and so was her hair. In that moment I realized how big she was on me; with my body all crumpled up and folded into her little chair, she seemed just as big as I was — and I cried more. I cried because with each passing day I’m losing her. I’m losing them. The bigger they get, the smaller I am in their worlds, and one day I’ll just disappear as a waning candle finally snuffed out. I cried because her hair smelled like my shampoo, not like her baby wash anymore. I sobbed because my back ached beneath her weight, the tailbone that had to break in order for her to enter the world throbbed, a constant reminder of the open wound that motherhood leaves you with, a wound worthwhile, but a wound nonetheless. I cried because I hadn’t sat holding her for this long in, well, who knows how long. This used to be every night. I bawled because I knew that these moments would get even fewer and farther between as the years progress. I sobbed because I know that I can’t stop it from happening.

As her breathing grew slower, I wondered aloud…

E.V., are you awake?


I smiled. My tears subsided and I cracked a smile; she understood every word I said. What a joy in the making!

Do you want me to hold you all night?


And at the sound of my voice again, she shifted her weight and raised her arm in the air, silently staring at the ceiling for a few minutes.

E.V., are you awake?


Do you want me to hold you all night?


It was more faint this time. I could see her belly rising and falling slowly and feel her heartbeat flutter.

E.V., are you awake?


It was barely a whisper at this time, a dreamy, determined whisper.

Do you want me to hold you all night?

Sleep had finally taken over, and her busy little hand slowly fell to her side like a sunflower slowly drooping at dusk. Her breathing became methodical, the beating of her heart rapid like a puppy’s, and her weight settled in on me and seemed to double in an instant.

Slowly I stood, like a mother with her newborn baby asleep in her arms, and crept to her cribside. Gently I laid her in her bed and whispered one last time.

E.V., I love you. I never leave you. Mommy never leaves you.


  1. Marla Nolan
    December 14, 2014 / 8:23 am

    That ….. To me…. Was the most beautiful thing I have ever Read … The tears are still pouring out of my eyes. Thank you. You are very Gifted… God Bless you and your Beautiful Family!

    • Talie Shove
      December 14, 2014 / 9:36 pm

      Oh, thank you, Marla! What kind words! XO

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