I ran my fingers through her sticky wet hair tonight, towel-drying her after her bath. Her curls cascade just past her shoulders now, and I remembered the mere uncontrollable wisps she possessed only a few months ago. Now the lush honey-colored corkscrews drape down her back . She turned to me and peered at me through dripping twists, dangling in her face, her eyes shining green, smiling at me before she giggled. She can illuminate a dark room with that smile, her infectious laugh, so light and squeaky like the little girl she is. I can’t believe how much she’s grown, nearing age 3 in January.

As she toddled away in her Hello Kitty pajamas that drooped too low, it made me remember her first steps; agony set in. I must’ve blinked, time went by fast, the smeared baby food faced doll-baby grew to be a big girl. I swallowed my heart whole as it thumped away in my throat, making me thank my stars for her sweet face, despite her tantrums and strong-willed stubbornness, she’s an all-girl, giggly princess-lovin’ spitfire, she is.

As I’m transfixed in the mass of hair she now possesses, bouncing happily as she continues into the next room, I noticed the blitz of infant motion scurrying fast below me, exploding into giggles with two teeth practically waving as his deep belly laugh permeated the brief silence.

My heart panged loudly from within. Time isn’t patient. It’s cruel and uncaring. It’ll be his first birthday in a couple weeks, I remember bringing him home just yesterday.

I felt stifled by my reminisced thoughts. My fears for my children spilled out of me and I watched their activity levels rise as the night’s hour ticked away. I remembered living quite a normal night, just like this one, eight years ago, bathing my son, delving into his lotion-scented tummy nose-first, living each breath drunk by it, not knowing what hell the morning would bring.

I remembered an ordinary night. The next night and the days that followed were anything but.

As I remembered that beautiful night, it made me want to wrap all of my babies in my arms and shield them forever, shield them from all sickness, from bullying kids, from poverty and from war. I couldn’t begin to entertain the thought of anything ever happening to their perfect bodies, them suffering in anyway imaginable, or going to bed one night without a care in the world, and waking up the next day to buildings crumbling and planes crashing from the sky.

I looked into their faces and saw innocence – they’re too young to know what occurred 8 years ago today, they don’t know the unspeakable horror and evil that exists in this world. I want to envelope myself into their cotton ball skin and lose myself in a maze of my children for a while, so I can infiltrate their innocence, blinding myself to it all, too.

But I made a promise that day to remember.

I promised that day and everyday since to remember the fear of the sky and the grip I had on the table as I clung to the news for days, tears spilling non-stop for the thousands, for the big city, the families shattered. I promised, I won’t ever forget you.

For now, though, I’ll dry my eyes and press my children tight to me and pray that my ordinarily extraordinary nights leave us to wake to uncomplicated, untainted days, untouched by such heartbreak and despair. It’s a prayer I remember to wish for everyone, everyday, forever.

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