It's amazing what you can learn about your own family when they are under the weather and off their usual game.
For several nights now, Fa-So-La-La and I have been camping out on the two sofas in our living room, because our usual respective bedfellows are considerably sicker than we are. This sleeping arrangement wasn't purposed to be fun (Fa and I don't feel so hot ourselves, mind you), but since we have never figured out how not to have a blast together, we're beginning to feel like we're having some twisted slumber party adventure, albeit one punctuated by coughing fits.
And the mother in me is beginning to think that daughters and I should maybe do this sort of thing more often (minus the cooties, though)... because it's funny how scenarios like this -- a late hour, a cup of hot tea in the dark, enough time for slow, pondering conversations -- can prompt a girl to come out with the things she normally keeps locked up tight in the dark corners of her heart. Amazing.
But not all such secret revelations are intentional. For last night I learned about one of Fa's really amusing, endearing, charming quirks -- something I honestly did not know about her.
When she thought I had fallen asleep, she cocooned herself tight in her blanket and began to hum. It was quiet and breathy at first. And then I began to make out that she was puzzling out the shape note syllables. She would spit out a string of them -- "mi-- re mi do do mi re do re mi re" -- and then hit a snag and whisper, "no no..." and start over. It got faster and faster, and then suddenly changed: "so so re re do re mi re do-- do-- re re mi fa mi re..." She quietly ripped through the notes to the entire hymn, at shocking speed. Then she paused. I could almost hear her thinking, "drats, I'm still awake." I was chuckling into my pillow and feeling big fuzzy waves of affection for my sweet girl - I mean, how charming it is to learn such a dear thing about a person you love so much. So this is what she does about her blasted insomnia... wonderful.
And then she started another hymn, but slowly this time. I recognized it -- her old standby, the one she turns to when life seems uncertain and out of her control... "do-- do re mi so- la- so mi re do, so- la do do ti la so la..." -- and somewhere in the middle of a stanza, her voice began to sound like I remember it from her little girl days -- easy, assured, unstudied and unspeakably sweet -- and then all I heard was peaceful breathing. She was asleep. She was smiling.
(Fa says virtual M&M's to the first person who can name those three hymns!)