The talking had finally ceased and he was ready at last to go to sleep. I knew this time it was for real. He had sweetly put his arm across my body, as if to hold me there in place. This was always the last thing he did right before he fell asleep. It was as if he was anchoring himself like a boat in the water so he wouldn’t drift away in the night.
Several quiet moments had passed when he whispered quietly “Mom.” I replied softly “What?” He said, “Can you breathe louder?” Had I heard that right? Was he already dreaming? “Did you say breathe louder?” I asked him quietly. “Yes” he replied, “I can’t hear you breathing.”
I chuckled to myself. “Were you afraid I had stopped breathing?” I asked him. “Yes” he said. My heart melted right then and there. I don’t know how many times I’ve cautiously and worriedly checked on one of my children in their sleep to reassure myself that they were breathing. I never once considered them checking to see if I was.
“If you have your hand right here on someone’s chest, you can feel them breathing sometimes even if you don’t hear it” I told him, showing him how I checked for myself. “Okay” he said, “but can you still breathe louder?”
I smiled in the dark. “Yes. I’ll try to breathe louder.”