Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Safe and Warm

I pad through the house, shutting off lights one by one. My head is heavy with thoughts.

Peeking into the kids' room, always my last stop before bed, I find my daughter lying awake, looking at the ceiling.

Tiptoeing up to the side of her bed, I lean down and whisper, "Can't sleep?"

Wide-eyed, she looks up at me. "My brain won't stop thinking, Momma," she says.

Sitting on the side of her bed, I stroke her hair.

"My project is due in nine days," she says, her lip quivering, "and I have a spelling test tomorrow.  Now it's late and I'm worried I won't ever fall asleep."

"My brain does this too," I whisper. 

I stroke her hair a while longer, and she closes her eyes.   "Think about right now, this very moment," I say. "You are safe and warm in your bed, the world is sleeping. Listen to the sound of your breaths.  Don't think about tomorrow; clear your mind."

"Say it over and over to yourself: safe and warm. I am safe and warm."

"Safe and warm," she murmurs.  "Safe and warm."  She reaches out and clutches my arm.  "Stay for a bit, Momma, please?"

I stay, whispering into her ear: You are safe. You are safe." 

Gradually, her grip on my arm relaxes, and her breathing slows to a steady rhythm.  She is asleep.


Later, my eyes fly open.  Outside the wind is howling, and I pull the covers up to my chin.   The middle-of-the-night thoughts scratch at the door; adult sized worries thumping to get in.  My world feels precariously perched, spinning like a top.  So much is unknown these days - test after test to try and diagnose the lump in my neck. An operation to remove my tonsils in six days.  Phrases like 'abnormal cells' ping through my brain. A cold finger of fear runs down my spine. 

I close my eyes and reach under the blanket, find my husband's strong warm body, and wrap my trembling fingers around his forearm.  I can feel the steady pulse of his heartbeat, hear the soothing sounds of his sleeping breaths. 

Safe and warm, I think.  Right now, in this moment, I'm safe and warm.  

Tomorrow's worries fade with each thump of his heartbeat. 

Slowly, slowly, I fall asleep, safe and warm in my bed.


This post is part of Just Write, Heather of the Extraordinary Ordinary's link-up where we, well, just write.  Come join us, by clicking here.


  1. Beautiful. I'm thinking of you.

  2. You are such a gift to your daughter and the rest of your family for that matter. Praying peace finds you swiftly.

  3. I loved reading this. I don't like reading about the tests and wondering. But take your own advice and I should too.

    We are safe and warm today.

  4. So glad you are writing.

    What I say to myself when I wake up at those hours is "nothing at 2am is true. nothing I think at 2am is true. nothing I tell myself at 2am is true."

    Although "safe and warm" is nicer.

  5. This hard time is filled with grace. Thank you for believing that it is worth sharing. All shall be well ...

  6. Such a beautiful post. This will help me with my own middle-of-the-night worries. Sending you positive energy for your upcoming surgery.

  7. In a whisper I say "thank you".

  8. I wish we could all stay safe and warm forever. Thinking of you Ellie. Much love...

  9. And you are. Safe and warm. And held by a whole lot of love.

    Thank you...

  10. Beautiful Ellie.

    You have been in my thoughts and I am so happy to see your words again (selfish I know).

    I have these troubles, i focus on the know and I make things disappear, either with an eraser or paintbrush until it's just me in a completely white room...weird I guess but it's calming and gives me something else to focus on .

  11. beautiful, relatable, transparent, intimate, reassuring... those are the words that come to mind. thank you for publishing this one. i need to use the safe and warm words with myself and my kids as we embark on the joint custody/moving out adventure this week. love and peace to you, my sweet friend.

  12. oh lady. It's possible I started bawling my head off reading this.

    I love you and your busy and wise mind.

  13. I am going to use that with my daughter, who is sometimes prone to anxiety and worry. I'm glad you have found a place of peace, if only for a moment.

  14. He holds you in the palm of His hand. Thank you for sharing.