Sunday night. McKinley lays next to me. Since Andrew is gone Renee and McKinley have been taking turns in my bed. Usually I enjoy having the bed all to myself, but of course when it’s the only option–husband gone for three more nights–then it’s lonely and sad. So here, next to me, a little snuggler, whose feet move back and forth, gently, and whose mind turns over ideas and questions–he whispers a bit, some reminder to himself? I can’t tell. And now, his breathing lulls, his feet are still, and he sleeps easy and full.
Earlier today Renee and McKinley decided to tenderly shove earrings in my ears. “Don’t hurt her!” McKinley demands while Renee soothes me with, “It’s OK, it’s OK, it doesn’t hurt.” McKinley grows impatient. “Let me try!” He demands. “Mom, be still. Be still.” I pretend to be absorbed in the computer, but I am lapping up this unusual demonstration of affection like a cat in the lap of a child newly absorbed in the silk of her fur. Occassionally their fingers fumble and my ears are pinched, but why show my claws? This they might never do again.
Renee gets the brush. She begins to brush my hair. “I’m smoothing it out,” she lulls to me, “and you’ll be So BeaUtiful! Everyone will say ‘Oh how beautiful!’ when they see you, Mom. So I’ll just smooth out your hair like this.” (yank, yank). Is this some sweet revenge for early morning attempts to desnaggle her hair? I lay still and feel the small press and pet of her hands on my head. My hair is brushed smooth and straight, which is not it’s usual state. I am then adorned with necklaces–yes, she raided my jewelry box again–and then McKinley proceeds to remove my reliable scuffed boots, in exchange for the less comfortable black dress shoes. (My one pair of dress shoes, I might add, as I live a rural life, where dressing up is always optional).
When Renee suggests that I wear a dress, because I would be “So PRETTY,” I stumble to my feet, and decline with laughter. But this I hold in my heart: their eyes, peering at me with a discerning glance, their hands gentle and fumbling all at once, their satisfaction at having made me more beautiful–which they have, they have, they have.