She just sat there, continuing to watch TV, as the boy pulled himself up onto the couch, and curled himself into a little ball in her lap. Once he’d finally settled, resting his head on her knee so he could see the TV too, she looked down and ran her fingers through his jet-black hair, scratching lightly at his hair as she went.
“This is nice, isn’t it?” he said in his soft little soprano.
She swallowed hard and took a deep breath to keep herself steady. He’d caught her off guard. She remembered, all those years ago, sitting on this very couch with this boy’s father. He wasn’t small enough to form a ball in her lap, he was all limbs and gangly, so he spent their TV time stretched out along the couch. But he would always turn and twist himself so he could rest his head in her lap, so when something dramatic happened in the show he could look up at her eyes wide and ask her if she saw that too.
But more often than not, he’d just lay there and enjoy her fingers raking through his hair, nuzzling his face into her calf, and ask her “This is nice, isn’t it love?” They spent many of their weekday evenings like that, and her answer was always “Yes, yes it is.”
The little boy noticed the silent from his mother, and twisted himself in his lap so he could look up at her “Mamma? Are you okay?”
She smiled, brushing his bangs out of his eyes, and gave him a little pinch on the tip of his nose. “Yeah, baby, I just miss your Daddy today.”
He pulled himself up, using her t-shirt as leverage, and wrapped his arms around her neck. “I miss Daddy too,” he told her hugging her tightly, “But he’s still here, right? Nana says that Daddy is still with us in our hearts as long as we still love him. Do you still love Daddy?”
Her eyes filled with tears as she wrapped her arms around her son. “Yes, Baby, of course, I still love Daddy. Do you still love Daddy?”
“Always and forever,” he answered, using the words his father used to say when he tucked him in at night. “And I think he still loves us. Wherever it is he is.”
“Yeah, I think you’re right.” She squeezed him a little tighter, planting a purposely sloppy kiss right on his cheek.
He made a groaning noise and cried “Mamma!” trying to squirm away from her. She let him go, and he squirmed himself right off the couch, making faces up at her. “Why, Mamma?” he complained, wiping furiously at his cheek in the process. “That’s gross.”
“Sorry, Rascal.” She laughed, holding up her hands in mock surrender. “Do you want to watch a little more TV, or do you think it’s time to get ready for bed?”
He squirmed back up onto the couch. “A little more TV please,” he smiled, curling back into his usual ball on her lap.
“Okay. One more episode, and then bed.”
“Thank you, Mamma. I love you.”
“I love you too.”