It is rarer now.
But still he comes.
In underwear worn loose like curtains around his thighs. And with hands half bent in front of him that have memorized their way from his bottom bunk to my bed in the dark.
Before his legs join his body beside me, I have already circled him in my arms. Already smoothed his hair twice with my right hand and put my lips to his face. Together we push covers back, to make room for his seven-year-old, big-boy body. Right beside mine.
We are still.
There is no need for explanation. I already know why he is here. And so I wait.
Until my boy empties his heart. And talks of the images in his mind. Pictures that do not make sense to me in real time. But pictures that still frighten him when he closes his eyes.
With my whole body I comfort my boy. My hands pull him closer. My legs cocoon around him. My head rests beside his.
And then I pray with whispered words for my boy. With my boy. My lips moving against his hair. I pray for his mind. For his heart. For his peace.
In minutes, I will walk him back to his bunk, carrying my own pillow behind me. I will pat and soothe and pray. Again. And lean in close beside him, as he twists first this way and then back. And then this way again. An hour will go by, and still I’ll stay. My own hips on backwards now.
Until it comes. The limpness in his hand. My release.
He will not always need me. Like this. Nor even remember in the morning that he did.
Which is why when I creak from his bunk with my hand on my back and climb beneath my own sheets, I’ll be grateful. Grateful for every lousy pain and dark-circled eye that reminds me that I get to be mommy to this boy. Twenty-four hours a day.