Lying awake, I worried about how I could carry the spirit of my daughter with me into yet another New Year. The phone rang shortly after I finally fell asleep. A voice said something about a young friend, too drunk to drive home. Could I fetch her from the bar and keep her overnight?
“Sure. I’ll get dressed and be right there,” I responded, suddenly wide-awake, my heart bouncing. It had been a long time since I’d been summoned like this.
Years ago, my daughter would phone me from her apartment around two in the morning, “Mom, I feel sick.” I’d throw on clothes, head out to the car in the dark, and drive the empty streets across town to bring her home. Before she got cancer I would have gotten grumpy about being awakened in the middle of the night. But I learned to make peace with matters serious enough lose sleep over. When my daughter phoned, whether it was chemo or something else, it felt good to be needed. I’d keep my mouth shut and not ask questions. I’d just get her home. That was our deal; call when you need me. Back then I never had to wait long.
And now, here was this young friend, about the same age my daughter would be. Collapsing into the back seat of the car, she told me she was embarrassed.
“Don’t be, I’m happy to help,” I said, thinking of how relieved and grateful some mother would be to know her daughter was safe and cared for, hoping someday someone would help my own son if he was ever in need.
Entering the house, she left her high heels in the mudroom. I walked her upstairs, spread an extra comforter on the bed, plugged in a few nightlights, and said goodnight. Halfway down the stairs I looked back to ask if she wanted a glass of water, but her light was out.
In my still-warm bed, I fell asleep quickly, like I used to whenever my kids would find their way back home. When I woke the next morning, I saw the heels parked in the mudroom. That’s when I knew my daughter’s ghost would find a way to follow me into every day of 2019.
What brings you peaceful sleep? How do you carry the memory of a loved one into the New Years of your lifetime?