4am. Wailing from the kids’ room.

I staggered in to find Little Girl almost incoherent. Finally picked out “I don’t have a cover,” retrieved the lost comforter, tucked everyone in.

Little Boy struggled upright, completely covered with comforter, freaked out. Struggle ensued. He began bawling that he bonked his eye and couldn’t find his cup.

Big Boy roused and bless his heart, tried to help calm his siblings.

Fetched fresh sippee cup of water, patted backs, rubbed heads, wrestled with whether to inspect the eye, got them back to sleep.

4:15am Hauled myself back to bed. Wide awake. Dark summons mental images of Ellie sleeping in this very bed just two years ago.

Hot tears wet my pillow.

Then words of a strong woman I met Saturday echo in my head: “We chose to be better, not bitter.”

The line is thin, between better and bitter. I must be deliberate and intentional as I face each memory. Memories are a sweet gift when I do not let them sweep me away into the swamp of bitterness. I must drop my anchor daily in “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

As I remember my beautiful girl, her wide smile, her joy in life, bitter tears melt into sweet sleep.