Pause, Fast-Forward.

I lie in bed with her as she falls asleep. She is in her brown, fleece, footie pajamas, the ones with the pink polka dots. Her hair is in puffs, our second attempt. She is tired. We talk about our plans for tomorrow. I tell her her daddy will be home when she wakes up. Presently he is still at work, late on a Friday night.

"When we wake up," I say, "we will have breakfast, pancakes maybe."

"Mommy, I like that. I like pancakes."

I know she does. I tell her that after breakfast mommy, daddy, Meazi and Melese will go to her school to plant trees. She says, "Planting, planting, all over planting." I tell her in the afternoon we will come home and carve pumpkins. She wants to carve the witch stencil she saw on the carving tools packet.

I so much want to freeze her at this moment. I want to press pause, but I also want to press fast-forward. I want to keep her here with me, this size, this age, this girl-my daughter, but I also want to move forward, forward to a day when her belly is no longer distended from the persistent parasites that won't seem to die. I want to fast-forward to a time when she really, really, understands that we will always love her no matter what she does. I want to fast-forward to a time when she doesn't have to tantrum, and to test. I want to fast-forward to a time when her self-esteem is elevated, and to a time when she understands that the events that have unfolded in her life are not her fault.

I want to fast forward to a time when she feels secure.

I want her to know that although this is her fifth stop, this is indeed her last stop. She will not have to go anywhere else.

No matter what.

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