I want to reach out when he is sleeping, touch the lines on his face. I am comforted by his breathing next to me, his peace. I love the morning light moving across his body – wrapped in blankets, a corner tugged over his eyes against the sun. He is so removed. I want to rest my hand on his chest and feel his breath, his heartbeat.
And: I want to reach out when he is sleeping, pull his tiny body close. He is so heavy, so little. He is so removed. There is a dim light in the nursery, a single beam across the crib. He would chase it if he was awake – he loves to move into the light.
I want to rest my hand on his back and feel his breath, his heartbeat. We talk about him when he is asleep. “Let’s wake him up,” one of us will say. “I miss him.”
It is all a miracle, for I have never loved warm bodies close to me. My sister would fall asleep on my shoulder, my lap, and I would stay awake thinking about how awful it was to not move. My body would fight it. I did not ever feel the desire to curl up next to someone, I only felt the desire to desire it.
Already I say, “When he was a baby…” Already I can remember a time before now. Some days I turn to Jeff and say “He seems older today.” In his face, there is more knowing. He joins us, day by day, in our laughter or words or gestures. He joins the world, certain, inhabited.
I remember when he was a baby and he’d sleep on my chest, or Jeff’s, he’d sleep in our arms. He would fall asleep – I mean to fall the way he fell into us, all his weight and trust and knowledge was in our warmth and breath. I mean to fall the way the burden of him would nearly crush me in the first few days after he was born, my back still so sore from the strain of bringing him here to my chest. Heartbeat to heartbeat to heartbeat we are only used to this.
They sleep and wake a little older. It is banal, unfair, and I want only to grab hold of them as they move from day to day.