Sometimes—
Often—
Most nights, I’m woken by my daughter, Bessie, who appears at my side of the bed – the one nearest to the door, which leads onto the landing, which leads to her room – and she waits patiently for me to ask if she’s OK. I ask if she’s OK. She nods. I ask if she wants me to come to her room and cuddle her. She nods again, sometimes with the softest caress of the word ‘yes’, as her head bobs down and then back up, and we walk to her room, and she returns to her bed, and her eyes close immediately, and I lie down next to her. And there is barely mattress to sleep on and there is barely enough duvet to cover. I place an arm round her, reach for the hand that holds her rabbit and wrap fingers around her fingers. I pull my knees up and in towards her and she rests her feet against them. And I lie there and I close my eyes and I try to find sleep again. Sometimes it comes immediately, sometimes after an hour or so, occasionally not at all. I hold onto her, and to all her beauty, and to all that love, that impossible power between us, which she takes for granted, and which I fear will one day be altered so radically. If I sleep, I might wake rested; but if I don’t, I’ve cheated time – forever remained in that moment of her coming to find and be comforted by me, clung to that gentle nod and that quiet whisper, that cupping of skin, that placing of feet – and managed to hold on for that little bit longer to my daughter.