Sunday, August 29, 2004

Thoughts on waking 

On weekend mornings, a cat alarm wakes me. The cats take turns, and each has its own technique. Sergei settles onto my arm, purring, and gently kneads my shoulder with his front paws until I wake. Lyra licks the spot between my upper lip and my nose; it's the feline version, complete with tuna breath, of being kissed awake. Sasha's alarm is the gentlest; he snuggles next to me, draping his large, fluffy tail across my face.

This morning it's Sasha turn. My first thought, just at the edge of consciousness, is of soft fur everywhere. My hands move of their own accord to ruffle fur, scratch his chin, push his tail out of my face.

My next thoughts are of Paul. These are not sleepy, semi-conscious thoughts of snuggling into his arms, or turning to spoon against his back. Rather they are anxious thoughts, increasing in magnitude as I wake more fully: Did he sleep well? When will his swallowing improve? What if it never does?

I roll onto my side, curl against his back, wrap my arm around him. I have learned where to place my hand to avoid the feeding tube. He shifts to move closer to me, makes a soft, contented sound in his sleep. I breathe slowly, trying to calm my mind. I want to enjoy this small, quiet moment. We are here. We are together. We will be OK.