The house is just beginning to stir. I balance a load of laundry on one hip and tiptoe toward the laundry room. I pass Claire on my way. She is dressed and rummaging in the pantry in search of a pre-breakfast snack. My early morning girl. Lauren, still cozy under her covers, turns the pages of The Indian in the Cupboard. I peek in on her but she doesn't notice. Faith sits up in bed and pushes tangled curls aside. She dangles her legs over the side of the bed and rubs her eyes. The sun pushes through the curtains and makes patches of light on her feet and on the floor.
I pause at the boys' door and scan for dirty laundry. The room is dark. The sun will not make its way to this side of the house until the afternoon. John's stack of midnight reading and his flashlight are in a heap. I pick up a shirt and a pair of shorts and add them to my basket. John and Charlie are sound asleep. John sprawls on his back tangled up in his red fleece blanket. His arms and long legs stretch out. His ribs rise up and down with slow regularity. "He's so thin," I think to myself for the thousandth time. For a moment, I am filled with a familiar ache and worry. It is a fleeting thought. I watch his serene face, eyes closed under long, long lashes, and smile at the menagerie of animals that make bumps under his covers. Sweet innocence.
Charlie's fleece blanket lies crumpled on the floor. His sun browned body is tummy down a few feet away from John. He wears only a pair of Lightning McQueen undies. He breathes deep breaths and sighs softly on the exhale. His little rump and Lightning McQueen rise and fall with each breath. He has pudgy little boy legs and arms and a sturdy frame. I wonder at the difference in the build of my two boys. I watch them for a minute...two minutes...loathe to leave the tenderness that is in this room. Charlie rolls to the side and opens his eyes but he is not awake. A second later, his eyes close again and his hand covers his face. I slip out and give the night owls a little longer to dream. I feel my own gentle breathing as I continue down the hall. Peace.