I open my eyes and see the ceiling. I look at the blinds and think the sun must just be rising. I sit up to see the clock. It reads 7:42. We’re late. I jump out of bed, slide on my pants, and hurry up the stairs as my stiff legs rebel against my every step. I reach the top bedroom and hear nothing. I open the cracked door to the sound of deep breaths. The girls are fast asleep.
“Good Morning girls. It’s time to get up.” My voice creaks after a night of disuse. My words fail to pry them from their sleep. I tap Melanie on the shoulder, and with a startled shudder she pops up. “Good Morning, Mom.”
Sylvia does not flinch, her body in her usual twisted heap against the bed rail. I reach down and begin to rock her gently side to side. She sobs. I lift her up. She cries for her puppy and her blanket. I shuffle around the bed collecting them, and we go downstairs. I set Sylvia down, and she continues to sob. Melanie runs off to the bathroom, and I hurry to the closet to put on fresh clothes. Sylvia continues to sob. I stop in the bathroom to run a brush through my hair, and Sylvia mashes herself against my leg, still crying. I pretend she is patiently waiting for breakfast as I walk off to the kitchen.
“Let’s get something to eat.” Sylvia sobs louder than before. I call through the bathroom door, “Would you like a bagel Melanie?” “Yes,” she says.
Sylvia sobs her way into the kitchen, dragging and tripping over her blanket. I try to engage her again. “Would you like a bagel too?” I ask. No response. Melanie pops out, grabs her plate, and runs off to the table to eat her food. I bend down to Sylvia’s level. “Sylvia, what can I get you to eat sweetheart?” She cries, probably wishing we could spend time cuddling in front of cartoons while she eases her way into consciousness.
I try to remain calm and find my inner peace. I walk to the cabinet and pull out the oatmeal and frosted mini-wheats. “Would you like one of these? What can I get you for breakfast?” She carries on. I grab her cup of milk from the fridge and lower it to her. “Would you like your milk?” She doesn’t move an inch. I place the cup on the counter and lift the bagels up. “Can I get you a bagel for breakfast Sylvia?” She cries louder then says in a frustrated voice “I want breakfast!” What does she think I have been trying to do here? I reply in as calm and sweet a voice as I can muster. “Okay, what breakfast?” There is a moment of silence (at last) as she does nothing. I point towards the cereals and again ask, “Would you like oatmeal or frosted mini-wheats?” She breathes heavily from the crying and replies, “Oatmeal.” I lower the box to her level. “Can you pick one for me?” She reaches into the box and grabs the only packet of oatmeal there. “This one! I pick.” We make the oatmeal and move forward with a big hug while the microwave hums.