Tiggy was never much of a snuggler. Most of my memories holding him involve him arching his back to get down. Once in awhile, he would lay his head in my lap and look up at me with those bright little eyes.
He would say, emphasis on the first syllable. I would stroke his wispy blond hair and he would return to his vroom vrooms.
Still, I worried when the baby came. He wasn’t interested in my lap, but what about when it was taken over by someone else? I had nothing to worry about. Mattias adored the new baby. When the baby cried, he became agitated, demanding I take care of him immediately. He’d run between me and the bassinet, take my hand and try to pull me.
He would insist. And settle back to his vroom vrooms when the baby had taken his proper place in my arms. Sometimes he would sit next to me, rubbing the baby’s head and kissing him while he nursed. Sometimes he took the opportunity to commandeer the baby swing. But as soon as I said the baby needed it, he gathered his toy cars, lifted the tray and got out.
He adored his baby brother. But he was still a bit of a baby himself and I worried that he wasn’t getting enough attention.
“Do you want to sit in Mommy’s lap?”
I asked about two weeks before he died. He looked up at me and those hopeful little eyes said everything.
“Come on up. There’s room. See, mommy has two legs for two children.”
I shifted Micah in my arm so he could continue to nurse, but not take up my entire lap. Mattias climbed up, perched eagerly on my leg and patted the baby’s tummy. A little harder than I would have liked, but not much disturbs that little guy while he’s nursing. He beamed and I gave him a kiss and a little squeeze.
It lasted only a few moments before he got down to explore the world at my feet. There was more room there for cars and blocks and plastic farm animals. But for his last few days on this earth, he invited himself regularly into my lap, more than he ever had before. Sometimes he brought a toy to share with me. Sometimes he brought his copy of Animal Babies, though he never sat still for more than one or two pages at a time. Sometimes he just sat there, looking quite pleased with himself, before pretending to swipe my nose and taking off giggling as he stuffed his pretend treasure into his mouth. Always his visits were brief.
Now Micah nurses alone and my nose remains where it belongs. The silence in the house aches, but I’m surrounded by memories. Beautiful memories. And though they frequently bring tears to my eyes, they also warm my aching heart.