I wrap her tight in a terry burrito per her repuest following every bath and just as my father did long years before for me. Her legs dangle beneath my waist, her feet dashing against my knees in staccato rhythm. The shrill laugh comes from behind my shoulder from a head hanging wet like dripping noodles, glad to be along for the ride.
She begs for help in dressing even though I lay out all the nightime accessories on the bed before her. "You know why I want you to do it, mama? Because one day this will all be over."
She's wise, this one, and one day is drawing fearfully near. The innocent laughter, the unabashed desire for assistance, the still held view that mama is strong enough to carry me and all the world along with - this will all die another day.
But for tonight we have this one day. This hour of backs tucked against the wall as she reads to me from her chosen devotion. She combines sounds and thoughts aloud while I come undone within. We echo back the application comprehended, we quiz each other on choices necessitated by our love for God, and she closes the book with finality.
"And now, we are going to pray..."
I gaze on her through slivered lids while she clasps her hands and prays aloud. And all the while I pray, "Oh Lord, that this will never end.