A simple thing: Driving home from the grocery store, I reach into the backseat for Lily, my hand on her head, her chest, her cheek, the same way I have on every car ride we’ve taken for more than a year now. In the beginning, before we bought the little mirror that fits over the headrest, I reached to make sure she was still breathing, not choking, still there. If she’d happened to have fallen asleep, the presence of my hand—an unnecessary reminder that she was alone, back there—only served to wake her, unhappy, from her nap. But I did it anyway, over and over, because it helped me, calmed me, comforted me.
Now, my reach—through the space between the two front seats, over the top of her giant plastic booster–is just a habit. But this time, when Lily shrugs my hand off of her shoulder, out of her face, and holds onto it with her own, I can’t help but think of the way my mom’s hand—familiar, still—reached into the back seat for mine, just a few days ago, somewhere between Omaha and Promise City.
A question and an answer. Still here.
And sometimes, that’s enough.