He always insists on wedging himself in the middle. Usually, he leads with his cold wet nose, brandishing it like a weapon to nudge an arm or a leg out of the way. After forcing an opening, he jabs with his front left paw, fumbling over the uncertain terrain of our bodies until he finds firm ground. The right paw follows and the rest of the body slithers in. He nestles in, head resting on his legs, body firmly pressed against ours, eyes glancing at Jeff and then at me. Soon, he breathes in contentment.
Jeff and I, with our cheeks still pressed together, envelope our bodies around him, forming a bulge around his 63 pounds of affection, and let our toes meet. Our entangled limbs rise and fall as we breathe in syncopation. We are infused with the smell of sweat, sleep, the outdoors, and uninhibited existence. And when the three of us lie cocooned on our bed in our awakening moments and the sun starts to streak in, I know that we are blessed. The world carries on in its unpredictable ways, but there we lie, bundled in our warmth, ripening as a family.