I woke up this morning to find Alphonse missing from bed. It’s so unlike me to sleep through Alphonse’s movements so I mentally cussed at myself for not waking up in time. Blinking a few times in the soft light of the bedroom, I took a few seconds to adjust to the light. I had forgotten to take off my contact lenses last night so they were stuck to my eyeballs and blurry from almost drying up. I jumped out of bed, my heart in my throat, ready to run and look for Alphonse. A few seconds later, I did find him, safely ensconced in layers of beddings and linens. Apparently, Alphonse had suddenly awakened, decided to use the bathroom, and then went promptly back to sleep. In his Kuya’s (big brother’s) bed.
When the kids were smaller, this was hardly a rare sight. Alphonse sought Alex’s warmth in the early mornings, and little kids that they were, they would sleep entwined, arms around each other, clinging to each other till light.
Now, they are both teenagers. Alex, at 17 and a year short of college, has began to carve his own space in this world. He has an identity separate from us. He comes home brimming with stories of his friends, of the people he has met, and of the places he has been. In the last year, particularly, we have seen him grow so fast that he is already light years ahead of his younger, disabled brother.
And yet, whatever else has changed in Alex’s life, one thing remains the same. He is and will always be Alphonse’s early morning comfort.