Since Joe-Henry was a baby, he's had a thing for my cheeks. When he was tiny, he'd reach up and touch them while looking soulfully into my eyes, melting me into a puddle of mommygoo. When he was a toddler, giving up his bottle, he'd have to touch them to go to sleep. When he got a bit older, and was feeling insecure or frightened, my cheeks took a beating, grabbing them as he did and pinching and squeezing them like he was a fat old aunty. This is also when he took to giving me "ompoo kisses". I'm not sure how he came up with the name other than he'd open his mouth wide, plant it on one of my cheeks, and try to give it cpr while saying (with his mouth full of my cheek) "OMPOO". Each cheek had to get an ompoo kiss, or the ritual wasn't complete. Who knows what fresh hell might be unleashed if both cheeks weren't covered with slobber? They used to kind of annoy me, because, you know, they ruined my very put together look (Hair was partially dried, if it had been washed at all, and there were only two stains on my shirt, and I had undereye concealer to cover my eye bags. Stylin'!)
I still get those kisses, though not with the frequency that I used to. And guess what. I miss them. You saw that coming, didn't you.
But they are not gone altogether, and I cherish them when I get them. I may even wait 5 seconds before wiping my cheeks with my sleeve. Then sniff my sleeve to smell and try to guess what he had for snack at kindergarten.
Last night, after gracing me with an ompoo kiss on each cheek, he fell asleep with his hand laying just under my eye. I couldn't stop staring at him, with his long lashes resting on his own ripe, soft, utterly edible perfect pink morsels of cheeky goodness. The weight of his hand on my cheek was heavy and warm, and I realized it won't be long now. I'll get a quick peck, if at all. I won't be the center of his universe, I'll be a distant planet. Misunderstood, maligned, and small. Like Pluto. Look what happened to Pluto.
But I will still be in his orbit. I'll still hover on the outskirts. With my cheek in my own hand, and a head full of sweet memories.