A happy Shaya with a gigantic ice cream.
A happy Shaya with a gigantic ice cream.

He’s always the first one up, Shaya. His quiet footsteps against the wood floors signal his coming, and he shuffles to me, wherever I am downstairs, with deliberate focus, must find Mommy.

Sometimes he comes with his blanket and favorite stuffed animal of the week, sometimes he comes empty-handed, always in pajamas, usually of the flannel variety.

He walks up to me wordlessly, expressionless, still in a half-sleep, and leans in to my body, his fragile bony frame pressing on my fleshy one to hold him up.

My arms encircle him, his go around me. We are as close as we can possibly be, hearts beating alongside one another. I smell the sweetness of my little boy’s skin, the long lean lines of his bare neck against my cheek.

I vow to never let go. To let him be the one to pull away first. To hold on, and close my eyes, breathe him in, be warmed by his presence, until he feels content enough, awake enough, to walk off on his own.

Shaya at our wedding in 2011 - five years old.
Shaya at our wedding in 2011 – five years old.

That’s always how it happens. Shaya lets go first. He backs away, drops his arms, and looks into my eyes.

I see the circle of shining golden sunlight inside his green-blue eyes, the sweet cleft in his chin. I hold his long fingers in my own, rub my thumbs over the knobs of his knuckles.

This boy. I love him so completely. My last baby, my youngest son.

When he was born, I knew he was to be my last. And I gave him a name that showed how grateful I was to be his mother, Matan, his middle name that means gift in Hebrew.

Every single morning that he has been with me for the last nine-plus years, there has been some version of this sweet hug. Wordless. Powerful.

The best way to start my day.

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