For moments like this one:
Last Sunday night David had meetings. The dishes were done. The house was quiet. The kids were turning on lights and finding pajamas and pulling down the blinds in their rooms. I suggested we all meet on my bed for a story.
We began reading a book Savannah received for her birthday, The Underneath by Kathi Appelt.
Every night since then, the kids have asked, "Can we read again tonight?" It has been a lovely refuge in the storm of busy life.
Last night, the kids laughed out loud as I read. I kept reading until we got to a good stopping place. We had prayer. Then Olivia begged for one more chapter. I gave in. But that chapter ended in suspense. (Perish the thought!) The children erupted, "One more, one more, you can't leave it there!"
I gave in again.
The next couple of chapters ended in tragedy. I started to cry while I was reading. (Couldn't help myself.) Ethan was tucked into my side and he looked up at me, worried. I kept reading, trying to talk around the choking lump and struggling to see the swimming words. Everyone was sober when I finished. Some of us were crying. I kissed them all and sent them to bed.
I lay there for twenty minutes or so and then Savannah came in. Eyes, red-rimmed.
"Mom, I thought when you started reading again that something good was going to happen."
She wept on my chest while I put my fingers in her damp hair.
We stayed like that for a while, Savannah weeping silently, my shirt getting wetter, her hair slowly getting drier.
Oh, this is the good stuff. It was one of those moments I live for. My children snuggled around me, their hearts and minds full of story and the whole-hearted empathy that comes from good writing. The room still, they all ears and breath, and me the voice to a story so good you have to weep, unabashedly.
And especially the afterwards. The openness, the tenderness, the vulnerability, the shared joy and the shared sorrow, the shuddering breaths, the steady beat of our broken hearts, the sighs, the satisfaction of being comfort, the quiet.
Be still my heart. I am undone.