Years ago, my beloved Howard had to be hospitalized for a week. During that time I had to leave the apartment, because it felt empty without him. When we finally returned, he had one of those collars on that made him look as though he'd gotten stuck at the narrow end of a megaphone - it was supposed to keep him from licking his stitches and pulling them out, but in reality it made it impossible for him to eat. I removed it, he gobbled down some food, and then I helped him onto the bed. I lay back, he crawled on top of me, tucked his head under my chin and let out a huge sigh of relief. We held paws and slept that way for about three hours.
Howard's long gone and Mallory has taken to climbing up my side when I'm in bed reading. He puts his arms around my shoulder or kneads my neck and chin, occasionally snuffling my ear with his wet nose. Last night, for a variety of reasons, I couldn't sleep and so today I decided to take a nap. Mallory climbed on me, snuffled for a few moments and then tucked his head as close to my chin as he could and we fell asleep.
And when I woke up, the world seemed a tiny bit better.