May 9, 2014

FREY" Moments with your children live forever


---- — The last thing I remember before falling asleep was my daughter, Catherine, walking down the hall toward my bedroom. She stood in the doorway, announced that she was going to work, and said goodbye.

Off she went, garbed in nursing scrubs. Catherine’s pony ail danced in the air as she turned around and fell out of sight.

The next time I saw her she was 8 months old and had just awakened from a nap. She stood upright on the Mickey Mouse sheets. She held on tightly to the crib railing. Catherine was wearing a long cotton gown adorned with three small snaps up the front. It was pink.

My daughter was making that little one-syllable sound she always makes when she awoke from a nap. The sound, guttural in nature, isn’t a word yet, but I know exactly what she means. Catherine is awake now. She wants to continue her day. She wants me to quietly creep down the hall until I make my way to the doorway, where, if all goes according to plan, I will pop my head into her room and say “peek-a-boo.”

And I did.

We both laughed out loud. My daughter fell backwards and rolled back and forth, her hands stretched toward me. After I swept Catherine up in my arms, her little fingers wrapped themselves around my head as she buried her face in the round of my neck. Her light brown corn silk hair, askew and slightly sweaty from being asleep, fell gently on my chin and the side of my cheek.

It was wonderful.

But when I awoke and realized it was a dream, I cried.

I miss those days. Really, I do.

The dream wrapped itself around me as if it was happening right before my eyes.

I wondered about that. Do our minds reserve a place for those moments in our lives when our children were babies? Moments that come to life and dance in our heads when we are fast asleep? Moments so real, so tangible, we can touch them with our fingertips? Moments that quickly hide somewhere in the recesses of our minds upon awakening?

My mother once told me that the time between when I was born and the time when I became an adult happened in the blink of an eye. Until her last breath, my mother, God love her, never stopped praying for me and never stopped being concerned about my welfare.

I remember catching a glimpse of my mother in the mirror while trying on my wedding gown. Her eyes, ever so slightly filling up with tears, were in a far, far away place as she watched me swirl my gown around in the dressing room.

I was 29 years old, but my mother, I believe, saw only the baby she once held in her arms, the baby who awaited her arrival in the crib after a nap, the baby who also may have made a little one-syllable sound, guttural in nature, that only she could understand.

I suspect now that my mother missed “those days” as well.

Bill Watterson, American artist and author of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes once wrote: “I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can play together all night.”

I played with my baby girl that afternoon, even though she was 23 years old. And if I had slept just a little bit longer, just a little bit, I know we would have played long into the night.

Alvia Lewis Frey is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at