When your voice rouses me from deep sleep, a hair shy of 4:30 in the morning, I can tell from the intensity of your anger that you’ve been trying to get my attention for several minutes. I went to bed worried about your cough and your lack of appetite, so your energy in protesting my absence is reassuring.
I stretch you out on the table and whisper soothing words while we do the necessary work, and we retreat to the chair in the corner. For all your outrage over being made to wait, you settle into an unhurried pattern of suck-swallow-breathe, your fingers playing with the satin ribbons on my pajamas, their smoothness the first toy you’ve shown interest in.
You fall asleep quickly, and no amount of persuading can convince you to eat on the second side. I pad softly back to your room and swaddle you, but I can tell from the outset that it’s a hopeless cause. You’re already ramping back up into red-faced outrage at the idea. We return to the nursing chair, but you fall asleep without even latching. You just want to be held.
I settle in bed with you against my chest. The ghostly roar of the interstate is muted by the walls. Your father breathes deep of sleep beside us; your siblings’ sighs and low groans punctuate the velvet darkness. But this five a.m. is for us, for you with me. The weight of your tiny body spreads outward and inward and fuses with me, filling up spaces in my soul I didn’t even know were there. It turns out there’s always more room for love.
I pull the blankets up around us in a U, conscious always of your need to breathe. I pat the warm curve of your back until your body stops resisting, and you sleep at last. I drift sleepily on the wave of Spirit that comes when I am living fully in the moment. My baby boy, how I love you.
For a visit home…overnight
the soul-filling silence of a winter afternoon in the country
and a glorious night of stargazing with my oldest
two brief shooting stars
deep darkness outside the windows
and a gentle sunrise that wraps the world around, uninterrupted by other houses
For the smell of my home church wafting out to greet me upon entering the familiar space
and the chance to worship with four generations of my family
For unnamed reconciliations
For morning snuggles with a preschooler in the crook of each arm
For conversations that illuminate yet again how blessed I am in my life
and the conversations that remind me that I can never stop wrestling with the hard questions
Counting to a thousand with Ann, for the first time in quite a while