Responding to the wails of infants at midnight, two, and four o'clock in the night, providing food, changes, and comfort as needed. Jolted awake by soft footpads to find a human figure standing in the doorway (did you know that in that first adrenaline filled second your brain won't register the fact that the figure in the doorway is under 3' tall) in need of you. Jolting awake to the cry of the phone in the darkest hours, dreading the message that follows the cry in the gloom, when the imagination is unchained by the shadows and runs wild.
When we first moved into the small town where we live, my wife and I both jumped out of bed, threw on our robes, and headed out into the dark to the apocalyptic cry in the night of what sounded like every fire truck within three towns. We searched the horizon for the dread glow of fire in the dark, sure the whole town must be burning. Nothing ... absolutely nothing. Turns out the high school women's soccer team had won their tournament and were being given a heroes welcome home. Small town life can be far more interesting than you think.
I want to take a moment to thank all those who respond to the cries in the night. The sleepy parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, stepparents, and foster folk who scramble forth to bring peace, comfort, and aid to the small child there in the night. I want to say thank you to all the policemen and women, firefighters, and paramedics who respond to the dire cries for help out there in the gloom. Thank you for putting your lives on the line to save others, to prevent disasters and put out the blazes, to thwart crime, to keep peace for the rest of us. You are more appreciated than you will ever know. Because of you all on those forces, I was able to go back to sleep, sending my prayers out with you when the siren sounded last night.*
*Don't think for a moment fighting men and women of the armed forces that you are forgotten here. Your efforts go a long way to allowing all of us to sleep better and we do appreciate that, truly we do.