Yesterday, Cole got sick.
It's hard to say exactly what he had, but it began as a headache and a slight fever during the day. Then, around 9 p.m., he called me into his room, where he was bundled in a thick blanket that I had tried to persuade him not to use because it was already a billion degrees Celsius, and he said he was hot. I touched his cheek. He was burning up.
I rummaged through the medicine shoebox in the linen closet and found the Advil, poured him a fraction of a capful and gave him some water to rinse it down with. Then I asked him if he'd like me to lie with him for a bit. He was giddy with joy. And as I climbed awkwardly in next to his hot little body, I realized I was happy too.
I laid next to him, gave him a duvet cover (with no duvet inside) and he slowly inched his arms free of it and I felt small little hands wrap themselves like vines around my upper arm. Hot, feverish little hands that reminded me that his body was fighting micro-invaders. He settled quietly and his fingers stretched until they touched the fabric of my shirt. (He's often commented on how soft my shirts feel.) The fingers ran back and forth on my shirt twice, then his whole body relaxed and his breath became quiet and regular as he slowly fell asleep. Every now and then he would tug on my arm to make sure it was still there. The peace I could give him, just by being near him, was peace for me too.
As a mother, when my child is sick, the best medicine (besides a quick cure) has always been being near them. And this, his tiny hand on my arm, gave me second by second feedback that he was there and he was fine. That's all we want, as moms. To make sure our kids are fine.
Slowly, by barely-perceptible increments, his hands cooled. As I lay there in the dark, I felt like I was in the best place in the world for me at that moment. Then, as Cole finally fell into deep sleep, he tucked one hand up between his face and his pillow and I reached up and kissed his forehead (partly out of affection and mostly to be reassured once more that the fever had subsided) and I slipped out of his bed.