I think one of a parent's biggest and hardest jobs is comfort: hugs, snuggles, shoulder pats, leg taps, a look from across a school parking lot.
Comfort them. Let them know they can do something scary away from you, but that you are never very far.
The hard part is that we, as their parents, don't really know they are going to do it well or be okay.
You'd never know from our face: steeled and familiar, no funny creases or shadows that might alert an observant girl she could be in trouble.
Yesterday I saw a dear friend of mine wear that comfort face for her son. Her son was being wheeled down a corridor for a surgery he had to have so his heart could function properly. It was a huge deal.
I saw my friend's face and while her expression was soft and happy, her skin was blanched. She was ready to pass out.
She didn't though, and neither did her husband. These parents held themselves together for their little boy, the same age as my own, so he wouldn't be scared. So he would not know fear.
Comfort: parents digging as deep as they go to find a way to make the terrifying seem normal and serene.
Every once in a while, I'm awed by the strength of my friends who have been forced to dig deeper, work longer, and bear burdens heavier than anyone should.
My friends' character rises above their circumstance, over and over again, for their children.
This particular friend of mine knows my comfort face by heart. She saw it as she went through chemo, ate crackers with cream cheese, and drank water from a straw with her perfectly round head on a pillow. She saw my skin blanch out a few times herself as we sat together quietly with her dog between us, radiating his own sweet heat. This sister friend of mine is a warrior of epic proportions who has come back from things not many ever do. Not quite like her.
Her stubborn and fiery spirit is bequeathed to her by her father who took her illness from her (as far as I'm concerned) so she could stay here, with her then newborn baby boy.
The same boy who today is resting, comforted in his mama's arms, with a heart now as strong and steady as hers.