The other day, after two beautiful days of sunshiney bliss, it was still warm but rainy. So, to stave off the 'what-do-you-mean-we-can't-play-outside' doom&gloom stares, we went to Mr. B's for some indoor jungle gyming. Normally, we are there about 20 minutes. It's a 20 minutes drive, 20 minutes of yelling/jumping/climbing/etc (sometimes with Mommy nursing a delicious cup of locally roasted, fair trade coffee), then 20 minutes home. It's a great, after-nap/late-afternoon/'where's-daddy' adventure. So, it's around 3:30 when we leave. I plan on being home by 4:30 at the latest... Before dark, especially with the rain and the holiday shoppers.
We get there and there's a break in the clouds! Yay! The kids love to walk up the parking lot, identifying the numbers on the buildings as we go, but in the rain, it's a hang on and sprint trial. They were thrilled with the light drizzle and the hand holding, and off we went. At the same time, a dad and his two daughters began making their way into the coffeeshop and, politely, he held the door for us. I thanked him and we made polite chat as we walked the four kids towards the play area. Shoes came off and kids went wild. He (like many parents) walked back into the coffee shop (there are glass walls so that you can eat/use your laptop/have adult talk and still be able to see your kids; inside, there are chairs for parents who stay inside). I stay inside because I dont like the idea of leaving toddling 2 year olds to fend for themselves with older kids (and because I'm slightly overprotective, I guess). If it's just them, sometimes I'll go out and grab coffee, but 99% of the time, I'm inside. Texting, chatting with the kids, occasionally even playing with them! (it's meant for kids under 10... bummer...)
One of the little girls takes a liking to Maya. They are talking (as though she understands M completely) and laughing and climbing. All the way to the top. Several times. I may have gotten a little misty... And Bobby, deep in the thick with a group of boys, is tumbling and playing and climbing on the lower levels.
When the dad came in to do a check, we were talking and he mentioned the girls were twins... Almost 4 years old... And that's when my breath caught.
I have almost 4 year old twins... Had... Have... Love... Miss...
A glimpse of Maya playing with an older sister. The laughing and the secret sharing... The playing with hair and twirling around so skirts swishy and sash-shay. Of Bobby, entangled with older brothers... Flipping over the jungle gym... Running and sliding... Laughing conspiratorially together.
We were there for over an hour. Even telling the kids that they were going to miss Daddy arriving home didn't encourage them out of their play. (And, when Maya looks at you with those big doe eyes and says, while sighing at the same time, "one more? one more?" it's hard to say anything other than "okay, one more time and THEN WE GO!")
When Bobby's playmates left for the day, Maya and her newfound friend played with him on the lower levels until he wanted to climb up to the top with them. (Which was sweet. His buddies left and he called out to Maya, who was on the third level. She ran to the fourth level slide, slid down, and was there in an instant, and when her friend said "want to slide?" she shook her head 'no' and said something that I'll assume was "Let's play with my brother" and the three of them played together, until they were off again!)
And then yesterday... The house quiet since the kids were at their grandparents while I cleaned... Glancing at the tree... A play on the picture window and the shadows cast by the multicolored lights... For a second, I saw them. All of them. Children yet older than time would have them all today. I couldn't breathe, couldn't stop the sob from escaping, couldn't keep my knees standing as I slumped to the couch. No words... Just heartbroken tears, wept in silence, hot against my cheek.
Often times, I think those words "If they were all here" and it is another knife through the heart. It's an impossibility. They could never all be here. I could have five children (9 children) here right now... But the uniqueness of each of babies was wrapped up in them... And that uniqueness, I dont know that that could be... Not in this universe... And then the thoughts brought on by my upcoming surgery, of the talk with Dr. Haney, of hearing that a TAC could have prevented the losses... I know that I couldnt have saved Nicholas and Sophia; we didnt know and, not knowing, there isn't a doctor in the world who would do a preventative TAC without basis. Alexander? Maybe... Just maybe there was a chance...
But that thought pattern... That bargaining one child for another... That taking this what might have been for what is... It's something that crosses my mind (and this blog) regularly. It always will I suppose. No amount of being grateful for all I have, for being supremely blessed for each and one of my children- for what I had when those who have died were alive with me and for what they bring each day now as well as for what I have with Bobby and Maya-, nothing can really quell that longing and wondering I suppose.
And, when I see those moments, like at Mr. B's, it makes me long for living siblings for Bobby and Maya. For them to be able to express their love and joy with other children on a regular basis. We are lucky that we have so many friends with kids older and younger, for whom Bobby and Maya can have that relationship. When their godsiblings or other friends' kids are here, it's a joy to see them all together. From the oldest ones to the ones closer in age, it's an image of family that never fails- even now- to bring a smile to my face.
As December comes to a start, I find my heart heavy. There's the missing and the longing and the wondering 'what if', but it's more than that. It's a deep rooted thankfulness for the fullness that life has brought, for the gifts of my family, for the love we have. For all that we have, and especially all we have together.
Of what is.