I rest my chin on the top of her head (the top of her head? when did she get so tall?) and inhale her musky-strawberry scent.
"What's up?" I ask.
"Nothing, Momma," she mumbles. "I just wanted you."
She wants me.
Two months ago I lay face down on a rumpled, cramped twin bed at the treatment facility and sobbed until my eyes ran dry. In my mind's eye I could only see the smoldering wreckage of my life. I drank again, I thought, and the worst part is I don't even know why.
I rub her back, and we sway back and forth. I love you, she says, simply. Not in response to a gift she's been begging for, or as an apology for one of her mood swings. Just because.
Love you too, I reply, afraid to say more, to overdo it, scare her off.
My mind pings back to her first visit to the treatment center; how she stayed at arm's length and only flicked her eyes in my direction twice.
With each visit she moved a little closer. On the second visit she sat next to me while we ate lunch. The third? She gave me a hug before she left. By the final visit she chattered away about her life, and even smiled at me.
The card from her that greeted me as I walked in the door after a month away said: I love you, and I am so proud of you Momma, but it will take time to build back trust. Just don't drink. I know you can do it.
One thing about tossing a bomb into the middle of your life? You get to pick through the ruins, hoping to find the things that truly matter to you, praying you can get them back.
Like the musky-strawberry scent of a pre-teen girl who hugs me, just because.
This post is part of Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary's free-writing link-up, Just Write. Click HERE to join in!