It was the bracelet sitting on my nightstand.
Two tiny heart charms dangling from a wiry gold string, held together with tape.
I hadn't noticed it earlier in the day, but there it was as I got in bed, and I realized the day had been filled with sweetness from my 6 1/2 year old little boy. He was the "old Johnny"--the boy who held my cheeks in his hands and told me he loved me. The one who crawled in my bed early every morning just to snuggle. My best buddy who wrote me love notes every day or made me jewelry and crafts.
That boy hasn't come around too much lately...he started to come around less and less after his baby sister Josie was born.
I have no one to blame but my sleep-deprived, 37-year-old self. I pushed him away too many times to count. He would try to climb into bed early in the morning like he always had, but I'd scuttle him back to bed, telling him it was too early. He'd ask to play Legos, but I was too tired. He wanted to dance to music, but I'd tell him he was too loud.
And now a year later, when I'm not so sleep deprived and I wouldn't mind a morning snuggle or a rowdy afternoon dance party, he's not here.
He wants to play at his friend's house, and he has his own Lego world where I'm not invited. He'd rather rush down early in the morning to sneak in more iPad time, than to snuggle with his mommy. I can't help but feel that I blew it--I lost that sweet little boy.
But, last Sunday, I had him. He was all mine and he was just the way he always was. We played golf and Legos and danced in the dark. He wrote me love letters and made me a holder for Valentines out of toilet paper rolls and a plastic cup. And then there was the bracelet sitting there for me to find.
He came back and I'm not letting go this time.