He pads downstairs in his mismatched fleece PJ bottoms and cotton sleeveless shirt. I know who it is before he emerges from around the corner. I know he will have some unnecessary reason for being up after bedtime. I know I won’t mind so much. If this happened every night, as it has at certain stages, I might be more annoyed. But it’s been a while since I’ve had a sneaky nighttime visitor. The house is quiet as Garrett works in his office and I clatter away on my laptop in front of the fire. A sheepish child spouting late night excuses is a welcome diversion.
I can’t remember now exactly what is is he wants. Maybe it's a drink of water, or he may be seeking someone to commiserate with him how very difficult it can be to fall asleep, you know, every night. I’d get it if we only had to sleep a few nights a week, but honestly Mommy, every night? You mean 8pm hits and I have to stay in my room until morning again? It’s tough being a night owl eight-year-old.
Whatever it is he's here to ask me, he is prepared to milk this visit to the main floor. I’m sure he saw the fire and the soft lighting and the woman sitting on the floor all alone with her computer and saw a big red target over my heart. He knows where to strike, and he’s a darn good shot.
“I love you,” he says at some delicious point.
“I love you too buddy,” I respond.
“You know how some people say ‘I love you,’ but it doesn’t really seem like they mean it? I’m really glad that in our family, when we say ‘I love you,’ we really mean it.” He looks at me with those eyes that stole my heart eight and a half years ago in a quiet hospital room where machines marked pulses and blood pressure—beats of hearts already full of love.
“I’m glad too buddy. I’m glad too.”
I give him another hug and send him upstairs to go to bed with the You Have To Stay There—I Really Mean It look. And he walks away. And I just think yes.
He knows that I love him.
And I know that he loves me.
This is a good day. This is everything. This.