He throws his toy to the floor with a piercing shriek and launches himself into my arms. His sobbing begins immediately as he buries his face into my shoulder as if my body can block the devastating sensations which took him by complete surprise. Knowing full well that it cannot, I shift his little boy form in my lap and rest his head against my sternum. I am nonplussed at his new found awareness of my ability —and desire— to soothe him.
His slender frame shudders with sobs as he tries to connect his tightly clenched fist with the side of his head; I press my hand against his ear as a buffer. The blows from his deceptively small hands reign down hard upon my knuckles; I press my hand harder against his skull hoping the pressure might ease the lancing pain. It seems to help some as he slumps against me, whimpering.
He presses his body tightly to mine; his lithe legs dangle over my thigh. I look at him and marvel at the strength in his slender frame. With a shuddering breath, he begins weakly to hum our current sing-me-a-song-because-you-love-me tune —“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…” I begin to sing softly as I rock him back and forth in my arms.
We sit in the middle of the floor, fused together like Siamese twins. We are joined —at the heart, the belly, the chest —by our mutual need; his to be comforted and mine to wash away his pain with the flow of my tears against the top of his downy head. He presses his face deeper against my bosom and slumps forward over my arm —spent and content to be my baby once again.
Making up new verses as I go along —“You are my angel, my precious angel. When you’re unhappy I feel blue. When you are crying, my heart is breaking. Mommy will take care of you” —I sing until I am nearly hoarse. I have held him and rocked him until my arms are leaden. He is so still against me that I wonder if the motion of rocking has put him to sleep. I pause in my singing to tip him back a bit so I can see his face.
His eyes flutter open as he lets out a deep sigh. He lifts his face to mine with a smile and begins to hum the tune I have just finished. I gently press a kiss to his clammy forehead and tighten my embrace momentarily. He squirms a bit and slips out of my lap to pick up his toy as if the last twenty minutes hadn’t happened.
His pain is erased —transferred, actually. I feel a dull ache as my heart constricts momentarily. I swallow hard and fight the tears. Who will soothe my pain away? Whose lap can I climb into for solace?
There is no one and so I write.