Yesterday when I came home, Isaiah raised up his stubby arms from where he sat on his scooter, and whimpered at me to pick him up. As I held him he put his head on my shoulder and went: “Mmmmm.” It was a sound of the deepest satisfaction, and for a moment I couldn’t figure where it had occurred to him to let out such a soul-soothed noise. Then I heard myself making the same sound.
Caleb and Eli crowded around me later, and competed to see who could hug me the hardest, until I reminded them that I am old, and that my back hurts. I don’t know why my back hurts, except that sometimes in my dreams I run really fast to stay a half-step ahead of the monsters.
Later that night Isaac scurried past me on his way to bed. I called him over, and drew him up into my lap. He wrapped his arms around my neck and rested that way, completely still. I breathed in his temporary smell of fresh-washed boy and gave silent thanks that I am a father.