She wakes up with a start. Her chest and forehead is beaded with sweat and her hands are cramped from being balled up in tense fists for so long. She never sleeps peacefully anymore. She hasn’t for a long time. Her sleep is long and rapt, often too long and rapt, but never restful. She misses feeling rested, although it’s a distant memory by now.
She places her feet on the floor, her sore, overworked feet on the cool hardwood floor, and stables herself upright. She shouldn’t be awake yet, but she is. She concedes defeat and reaches for her robe.
As quietly as she can, she tip-toes down the hall to his room and peers in at her boy. Leaning against the door frame, she sees that he’s sitting at his window, where he spends so much of his time, waving at someone down below. The slouch of his shoulders tell her that he’s sad about something. Her heart tightens a little because she knows he won’t tell her about it; he never tells her when he’s sad because he doesn’t want to upset her. He takes care of her much more than she does him. He’s a boy beyond his years. She closes her eyes for a moment and silently gives thanks for him.
Her Sam, sitting on his desk chair, peering out onto the street. Her Sam, who loves her as much as most kids love two parents. His heart is so pure and so full. Life has given her more than her fair share of pain, but when it comes to her son, she knows that she is the lucky one.
They haven’t always been alone. Their home used to be full of life and laughter and more love than the walls could contain. Her husband, Sam’s father, was the provider and the protector and as such, made them feel safe and warm and he loved them with so much of himself that there was no room for anything else. He was as much her best friend as he was Sam’s. They were a family that was envied by those who didn’t know that sort of love. Now it is her who envies families that are intact, but she tries not to think too much about it or she will break. She’s done enough breaking for a lifetime.
He hears her sniff and turns his little head. His hair is disheveled, like he just woke up, but she knows he was up with the sun. He always is. He can’t sleep very well anymore, either. Their eyes meet; the same grayish blue eyes. Their eyes carry the burden of emotion – sadness and loneliness and hurt – but are filled with love.
“Good morning, sunshine.”
She shuffles over to where he sits, pulls his head into her hip, and smooths his hair. She looks out his window to see what he sees. Nothing but shops and passers by. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it was, wasn’t hers to see.