I usually put my seven-year-old daughter to bed every night. We go through a routine: brushing her teeth, washing her face, and going straight to bed. In bed, we play finger puppets, a pastime that has entertained her for years. Before sleep, we pray together, after which she holds my thumb and drifts away to sleep. Since she was a baby, she always held my thumb to sleep. It comforts and gives her a sense of security but also warms my heart to feel her little hand in mine. I wait ten minutes, and when I am sure she is asleep, I gently withdraw my thumb and leave the room.

A few days ago, we went through nearly the same routine. Unfortunately, it was a heavy day for me, having received some sad news about a family member. I was not in the mood for games. After a short prayer, I kissed her goodnight, and she instinctively reached for my thumb. I sat in bed next to my daughter and observed her drift away to sleep. Despite it being an unpleasant day, her touch comforted me, and I, too, slipped away to sleep. I woke up about ten minutes later, gently removed her hand from mine, and quietly left the room.

The following day, while having breakfast with my daughter, she asked me if I was better, and I assured her I was.

“Daddy, yesterday I saw you leave, but did you return later?”
“No, sweetheart, I went to bed not long after.”
“But I felt a thumb in my hand.”
“Maybe you were dreaming?”
“No, Daddy, I wasn’t. I was awake and then felt your thumb in my hand, so I fell asleep.”

I know it was not me, and I thanked whoever had comforted my daughter back to sleep when I could not do so myself.

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