Pepper has never been a snuggler. There was a free spirited independence that began in the womb. A stubborn streak that was bred down deep. Nursing sessions seemed to be for sustenance only and there was rarely an instance of milk-drunk cuddling.
I should have savored the snuggles that were so few. I should have breathed the smell in deeper and tickled my cheek with the downy fluff of hair.
We have always joked that our best snuggles come when Pepper is under the weather. When she is at 80%, the edges are softened and the contact happens. Long-lasting, sustaining, body heat sharing hugs that are such a treat.
I can count on one hand the number of times that I have shared our bed with six-year-old Pepper since she was three weeks old. Those first sleepness nights were spent with my eight-pound swaddled bundle asleep on my chest. Her ear against my beating heart. My hand meditatively rubbing the bum I had caressed for months in my belly.
And, then we found a different rhythm. A new season. One more change upon change.
So, one night late when I heard the stomping footsteps that are the defining sound of Pepper moving through our house, I waited. I waited for the toilet to flush and the bathroom light to shine down the hallway long after her departure back to bed. Instead, I heard a voice. Small and quiet. Hesitant and pure.
“Momma, I’m scared. I had a bad dream. A real bad dream.”
In a rare instance of uncharacteristic clarity for 4 o’clock in the morning, I offered a snuggle. An open arm while peeling back the duvet and a gentle nudge to scoot Thor over.
And, so we snuggled. The thick brown hair nuzzled under my chin. The lean and angular face resting heavy against my chest. The knobby knees and pointed elbows pressing against my softer curves. A body length nearly mirroring my own.
Two hours of disruptive rest. Two hours of bliss. A snapshot of time in this season of life. A walk down memory lane.
A snuggle to fill up this momma’s cup.