The "what if's" came to the door in my mind, knocking politely at first. I ignored them in the hope that they would go away, but they are more persistent than that. The knocking became pounding, that turned to shoulder ramming body thumps, splintering the frame of the door in my mind, too powerful to be contained by the deadbolt.
The door flew open and they were upon me, crawling about my brain, fear slithering its way into my heart.
I lie awake, stricken, paralyzed by the thoughts of what could have been. Surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people at the Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington DC, a place where I chose to bring my children, to give them an experience like no other.
I had not considered the kidnappers, the terrorists, the reckless drivers, the people with evil intentions and nothing to lose lying in wait to steal my babies. These thoughts haunt me in the wee hours.
I hear a door down the hall, the familiar turn of the knob and gentle thud of door against wall. Our middle son shuffles into our room, Puppy in tow, no swish of diaper pants, he is a big boy now. He appears at my bedside and I gratefully pull his skinny body into bed, relieved to have him so close.
I wrap myself around him, breathing deeply the smell of his neck, nuzzling his ears, feeling the length of his little body, counting his toes.
He murmurs groggily through a "puppy-sucking" thumb, "Mmmy, I tryin to sweep."
I wait in the darkness for my youngest who will come next and my oldest who will come finally. It is not until they are all in the safety of our bed that sleep will find me.
I might just keep them here, forever. Big, strong Daddy to protect us and Jersey and Penny, our dogs, to warn us of danger. Here I can keep all of the scary things away from them. Not since they lived inside me did I have the ability to do that.
I consider for a time that we may never leave this bed again, but that would be crazy. That would be giving into the fear and that is not a message I want to send to my children.
So...I will take comfort in the knowledge that nothing did happen, we all made it safely home. I will do my best to keep the fear at bay, to have faith in the quest for sanity that drove us to the rally in the first place.
"Fear can keep us up all night long, but faith makes one fine pillow." Anonymous.