I was settling in with my crochet, enjoying the peace while Larkin slept solidly. All of the sudden, from the bedroom, he let out a frightened yelp. I threw down my crochet, and darted into the room. In the dim light, I could see him tossing a bit and whimpering but realized that he was still asleep. I yanked the barricading pillows out of the way with one hand, while reaching with the other to feel his cheek for fever. His head was cool, but he was obviously having a bad dream.
I laid down in bed beside him, and prepared to offer a nursing – his usual nighttime request. Before I could position myself, he turned to me. There, in the golden glow of the nightlight, he curled in tight beside me. He rolled until we were belly to belly, and rested his head on my chest. I wrapped my arm around him, and he reached out his small, soft, dry, warm hand and held on tight to my hand. I stroked the tiny dimples on his knuckles and he squeezed my fingers.
I leaned in and kissed his forehead, then buried my nose in his hair. The fine, puffy, dandelion fluff of his hair tickled my nose. The sharp smell of his lemon organic shampoo mixed with the beachy scent of his sunscreen that never totally comes off in the bath, but it was all pushed aside for the decidedly little boy/baby head smell that is a perfume all his own.
I kissed his little head over and over, until the whimpers stopped and his little body relaxed. I rested my cheek on his head to double check for fever, and considered drifting off to sleep in the sweetness of the cuddles. Then he stiffened and cried out again, stopping short only when he reached out and realized he was still in my arms. My heart broke at the sadness of his fear and trembled with the power of our connection that just my presence was enough to offer such peace.
We laid like that for several minutes as he settled back into a peaceful sleep. I held him tight and wondered what he could possibly be seeing in his dreams to cause such discomfort. (Seriously though, what does such a precious child in such a sheltered environment have nightmares about? Weaning, maybe?) Eventually, he rolled away from me, and settled into his usual starfish position, sprawled across as much of our bed as he can possibly occupy. I slid out of bed, and came back out here to the living room – but I left my heart back in the bedroom, in Larkin’s safekeeping… just where it’s been since the first time he laid his head on my chest.