He’s crying again. I throw off the covers and reach for the sweater at the end of my bed. I pull on my socks and some sweat pants. He’s still crying when I reach his door and push it gently open.
His back is arched and he’s in a panic. He must be, to wake alone and in the dark. I pull him to me. His little head finds its way to the spot just under my chin as I settle him on my shoulder.
We’ve walked these floors together each night since I brought him home. In shoes, in socks, barefoot –across the tile, I’ve carried him in endless circles.
I’m tired, so tired, but I can feel his dark eyes scanning the room, not yet ready to close again.
I pace and I think. About the book I’m writing, about my 4-year-old's birthday party, about my upcoming surgery and the localized chemo to follow, about changing the water filter in the refrigerator door. Thoughts big and small follow us along our path through the darkness nipping at our heels.
As his eyelids get heavy, so does the rest of him and I can feel as his body melts back into mine.
At this age the feeling is still familiar and I know that with me he is, and always will be, safe. That even when I am gone, because of him, a piece of me will still be here.
A year ago, he was a wish. A dream. A reason to grieve.
But, today, he is here. Here, in my arms, pressed against my chest, and so very real. And even though my shoulders and back have begun to ache, I won’t put him down. Not yet.
Because this scarred body of mine is the only one who knows just how to hold him. My heartbeat still lulls him to sleep. My footsteps across the floor rock him ever-so-gently and, again, he remembers what it was to float in me.
One day when he’s big, when he’s tall and strong. One day when my body finally folds in on itself. The day when he must slow down for me – he will remember this.
He will remember I carried him.
Because I was his mother and that is what we do. We carry our children with us always, and long after they’ve become too heavy to bear.
He will know that I carried him here. To this world. To this place.
And as much as it will mean to him—it was everything to me.
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