When I was little, Mom homeschooled my brother and I, and for several years into our early childhood we weren’t allowed to go get breakfast or watch TV in the morning until we had cuddled with her first. Every morning we’d clatter into her bedroom and dangle our muffed-up heads over her face as we asked, “Mom, can I go get some cereal?” “Mom, can I get up now?” “Mom, I think Kitty needs me…”
“Just one quick snuggle…” she would say.
She’d pull us under the covers and bury her nose in our warm, fluffy hair as she sighed with contentment. There’s no real activity to cuddling, just resting and loving, so we’d tuck ourselves in tightly next to her, each on our own side, and lay there and let her warmth wash over us.
When I was five the local newspaper came to our house and interviewed me because I had written them a letter. I thought they should do less stories about violence and more about cuddling. Somehow it made the front page.
One of the last times I saw my mom truly alive (before the coma and respirator), she was laying in her hospital bed as Dad and I sat and talked with her. I was tired and she could tell, so she pulled the covers down and invited me to come up and take a nap with her. There wasn’t a moment’s hesitation as I pushed the tubes and wires aside and crawled into her big, squeaky hospital bed. I laid myself down in the nook that had always been mine on those mornings at home so long ago, and tucked my now bigger head under her chin, resting my cheek against the soft skin on her chest. My legs dangled off the foot of the bed as she wrapped her arms around me and kissed my hair. We drifted off to sleep together that way, soft and warm and overgrown.
I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing that.