He caught my cold. My poor baby lies in my arms tonight, feverish and congested, chest slathered with aromatic vaporizing rub. His head is cradled in my elbow, his little diapered butt rests on my lap. His legs dangle off the rocking chair. The hallway nightlight casts a dim glow in his room.
We rock, and familiar verses ring in my ear.
I’m rocking my baby,
and babies don’t keep.
I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always.
As long as I’m living,
my baby you’ll be.
Long silky eyelashes lay against the curve of his flushed baby cheek. His ragged breathing through his stuffy nose starts to calm, and I suspect he’s finally asleep.
I press my chapped lips to his forehead and whisper, “Ready for bed?” His little fingers reach up and find my face.
“Mama,” he whispers, “No.”