He begins the evening ritual, the hardwood floors creaking under his feet like the beginnings of a strange percussive song. Down the hall, circle the living room, up the hall, circle the bedroom. Repeat. Repeat. His footsteps thumping and whispered "shhs" accompany the rhythm of the creaking floor. With every loop around I see her body relax until she is limp with comfort, and sleep.
Her relaxation is mirrored in his shoulders, his posture visibly falling as he makes his last loop. When he kisses the top of her head I catch a glimpse of the love in his eyes. His love for her.
All at once the percussive rhythm is replaced by her quiet breaths and squeaks from her sleep. He settles into the chair with her snuggled against his chest and it is the most at ease he has looked in many days. Her rest and comfort radiating to him. His comfort and love radiating to her.
It is his turn to tuck the big girls into bed, but I do not want to move her, so content she is with him. So content he looks with her. I usher the girls into their room, whispering and tiptoeing down the hall to keep from interrupting his moment. Their moment.
Soon she will wake, ready to play, ready to fuss, ready to eat. But for now she is quiet. Peaceful. Sharing her peace with the one person who needs it most right now.