It is one of those moments you want to freeze and tuck away in a safe place to revisit when he’s gone.
“Mama, will you lay down with me a while?”
“No, honey, I’m in the middle of watching a movie, so just a kiss good-night.” At 11, it surprises me he asks, but I suspect it’s little more than a stalling technique.
“Just a little while? I’m going to bed early tonight…”, and there’s an urgency in his voice that tells me he’s much more important than Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt and whatever it is that women want.
Eagerly, he lifts his covers to invite me in, a twin bed means close quarters. He turns on his side to face the wall and backward-snuggles into my arms. We’re a nested pair of spoons, and though he’s inches shorter now, I realize soon he’ll be taller. Will he still ask me to lay down with him then?
As I wrap my arm over his body and pull him tight, he sleepily says, “Thank you, Mom…you’ve blessed me.” That wasn’t expected–a blessing to him just to help him stave off sleep? My heart is pierced; love seeps out.
There’s a rhythm to this memory. His bedside clock projects time onto the ceiling; every three seconds it flashes between the hour and room temperature–9:47 (one, two, three), 72° (one, two, three), 9:47 (one, two, three), 72°(one, two, three) and before I’m ready for it to change, it’s 9:48, then 9:49, then 10:00. The temperature is constant, but I’m thinking “How can 60 seconds pass in three blinks?”.
His fish tank gurgles the need for more water, but he likes that sound. Relaxing to him, it’s his “white noise.” I smile to think how the ocean calms me likewise.
Other than that, there’s only the still of night.
I press my face into his hair and inhale to my toes…oh, how I love his scent! One part boy, one part clean, I’d know him just by that smell (it’s much better now than when his feet are caked in filth).
His body twitches then relaxes and his breathing steadies. The minutes on the ceiling change 11 times and he’s already chasing dreams.
Eleven times, 11 years old, in 11 years he’ll be out of college, 11 years ago I was holding him in my arms and exploding with mother-love.
At least that hasn’t changed.
Originally posted 9/4/08.