It’s been 12 years, to the day today that the boys up there were born.
People who have twins get all kinds of lines from the other parents and non-parents out there. I never paid them much attention until my late wife became pregnant with the boys. It was then we all started to notice things.
First, a ton of family came out of the woodwork – on both sides, mine and my wife’s – to say “Oh! Did you know (insert family member’s name here) had twins?!” Or we also got “such and such had twins and . . . did you know twins run in the family?!”
Um…no. We didn’t know that twins ran in both our families. Had we known that at the time I’m not sure it would have made a difference but we might have had it in the back of our minds that twins were a distinct possibility.
Let me just say, too, there were others that seemed jealous of the whole thing.
“Oh! I wish I had twins” was one. “I always thought it would be great to have twins as my first kid” was the other.
We were naive. We had two girls and figured . . . since we were parenting two how hard could two be at once? The reality was far different from the thought. Twins, you see, aren’t double the work. I’d put it at 5 to 10 times the work. There are schedules you need to keep. If you feed them separately you end up never sleeping.
I’ll be honest, I cannot say that I remember a lot from the first 6 months of the boys’ lives. I remember my brother coming to visit the week they were born, along with my folks. I remember that I had no sleep . . . none . . . for what seemed like an eternity. This wasn’t the “oh we miss sleep” that a parent gets when they’re baby’s first born. This was the “I feel like I stayed up cramming for finals after drinking a fifth of Scotch 5 days in a row” kind of exhaustion.
Yet there was just something about these two as well. My sons, from the moment they came out of the womb, had different personalities. All the people who debate if you are born with a personality trait at all need only look at my boys. Noah and Sam could not be more different. The introvert and the extrovert. They’re amazing little guys.
It’s been a spectacular 12 years, too. The boys have adjusted to life with just their dad far better than I would ever have expected. When she passed away they had their birthday just a couple weeks later. I hadn’t even thought about presents or a party or what to do. Their grandparents – at the time both sets were here in town – were there. We had cake and ice-cream and we had what may have been the least memorable of their celebrations. They didn’t care. We were together, what was now a new, insane and goofy family was together. They told me if they’d each gotten one present and it was a can of soup they didn’t care. We were all there. That was when they turned 8. Imagine where they are now?
But it should come as no surprise. They thirst for knowledge. They read incessantly. They are like Felix and Oscar in The Odd Couple. One is obsessive, clean to a fault. The other…well…he’s got clothes still in my laundry baskets and the rest on the floor. They broke their beds and now have bunk beds, one meticulously made and organized the other with the covers haphazardly tossed willy-nilly across the mattress.
That said, they are the celebratory boys today. Twelve years to the day these little amazing creatures crawled into my life.
Short post today, I have had a long day and it’s very late.
But still . . . a good day.
Never mind the fact I actually got an arrangement and basic tracks for my song/video complete. Just need better vocals.
Never mind that Hannah, my middle child, picked out a dress and sweater and is getting up early to do her own hair for school pictures in the morning.
My pride came in the form of my two sons tonight. Pride, I know, one of those “deadly sins” they talk about. Normally, I’m a big fan of wrath . . . but . . . (Malcolm Reynolds reference there, everyone). Still . . .
I headed home around 4:45 because one of the kids had gotten hurt. Wasn’t anything major, no limbs hanging by a ligament only or another broken arm or concussion. Just a small injury that needed my attention. After that, though, I had to head to a meeting for Hannah’s confirmation. Abbi is assistant director for her school’s play so I had all three of them with me tonight.
But the boys, scamps that they can be, were amazing. I put chairs in the corner for them and allowed them to play their Game Boy 3DS systems during the meeting. A teacher came up and asked if they’d pull in some garbage cans for the plates and cups that the parents and kids were using and they did so with no complaints and no grumbling. In fact, they seemed happy to help. When the meeting was over they put the cans away and helped fold up tables, stack chairs, all of it.
Bear in mind, they’re only 9. That, and they are twins.
The boys were happy to help and sat, quietly, being very good for a more than two hour meeting that had no bearing on them.
After the meeting I had an array of people telling me how great the boys had been.
I beamed, I really did, and let them run around the gymnasium to burn off some of the energy they’d stored up.
I waited for the fall, for the other shoe to drop . . . but tonight at least it didn’t come. I set out their clothes for Spring pictures, readied everything to get them set to go . . . and kissed them each on the head as I headed down to make lunches.
This wasn’t an easy weekend. Not by a long shot. We had the twins’ birthday, which isn’t a particularly easy event to begin with. I knew they wanted a big party or something to do with all their friends. They only asked once or twice for it, but they didn’t keep asking. I mean, I realize that the majority of it is the anticipation of getting presents and the cake and the ice-cream. Hell, the fact that I limit the sugar and preservative intake that the boys get is reason enough to believe that they actually eagerly anticipate the cake and ice-cream for sure. But they had gotten used to their lives before they lost their Mom. I know that last year’s birthday was an anomaly. They were just so happy that they got a birthday at all, along with the fact that they’d gotten it with both sets of grandparents and their sisters I think they were surprised we even pulled it off. It wasn’t even 3 weeks after they’d lost their Mom.
This year was better, sure. It wasn’t facing the spectre of their Mom’s loss like last year. But remove the veil of grief that shrouded everything in those first few months and the expectation still stands, much like it was before. Their Mom always wanted to ensure that they had an amazing birthday and holiday. Often it came at the expense of many other things, including some overdue bills, but that never stopped their Mom from telling them that they’d have the party, renting out the laser tag place or miniature golf, and being the hero of their birthday. We overdid it on presents. We bought a pre-made bakery cake.
This year I could see the effect that our lives has had on those boys this week. The boys both wanted bigger presents but neither of them asked for them. Not a one. In fact, both asked simply for new books they can read – ones that would interest them – and some small Lego sets that would build a car and spaceship, pieces that only cost a few dollars each. That’s all they asked for. It was fortunate as we only had a little to our name this week. It’s been particularly heavy on our finances so far. I am due a tax refund and I was waiting for that check, one the IRS website had said was coming in the next 72 hours. Unfortunately, they changed their minds and decided that it would be ten days after the boys’ birthday that it arrived.
My sister-in-law in her kindness held the party at her house. I did make their cake, decorated with some letters and stars and made from scratch. It wasn’t that I minded, I liked it quite a bit. Baking has never been difficult or arduous for me. I don’t mind it, it’s just finding the time that’s the biggest problem. That and the money. I managed to get a handful of new books, including one Muppet book Noah’d been dying for and a 39 Clues book that Sam had been begging for. I also managed a great book by Neil Gaiman for Sam and one called “Al Capone Cleans my Shirts” for Noah. Andrea’s family acted as it was no problem at all that they took on the party but I do know better. I’m sure they were happy to do it, but I’m also sure that it was a bit of a burden, one that I feel awful I was unable to carry and not smart enough to fix our finances so I had saved enough to get it going. Awful enough that I gave them cards promising a bigger present – something they’d wanted but wouldn’t ask for – when the refund check came in the mail. They said they weren’t expecting it, but they were thrilled.
But like their Mother, I did what she would have done. I spent what I had on their birthday, figuring we’d sort the rest out as necessary. I filled up the car best I could. I bought a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk. I had meats and meals planned for the week. I had the staples. I take the train into work and have a monthly pass. I bought the four books, the legos, and made the cake. I figured if things got any tighter I had a guitar we could sell to make ends meet. In fact, I’d planned it all along. The boys had some gift cards and cash from their birthdays. I had no desire and too much pride to ask them for any of that. I figured I need only get to Friday, payday, before things would get better. I needed only a few things to get through the next days. My biggest worry was gas for Abbi and myself and getting through the rest of the week for other unexpected expenses. I figured I’d get a few hundred at best for the guitar by Monday or Tuesday and all would go well by that point.
The boys begged me to take them to Target, where they had gift cards and the expectation that they’d be able to buy the Legos and other things they wanted. Before we went I told the boys to get the mail from yesterday, which we’d forgotten. I hadn’t thought too much about what we needed to do the rest of the day, just always weighed down by the finances. Rarely did I go to bed and not talk to my wife, which may sound strange, but the reality is that she and I talked all the time. To not have that conversation after a certain point in the evening just, even today, feels . . . wrong. Empty. It’s not that I just want company, it’s that I don’t have her company.
When the mail came into the house, spilling out of Sam’s hands as he brought it in, there was the typical junk mail, a couple cards for the boys’ birthdays, and a letter I didn’t quite understand. It was a legal envelope, saying there was a settlement inside, but I was fairly certain it had to be one of those massive number of junk mail pieces, lots of junk, one of dozens I get every week. But opening the envelope, inside was a check, a class action settlement. No, it’s no massive change in financial status, but it’s enough money – just enough – to get us through the week. I don’t always believe in all those stories people tell of loved ones watching. I have relatives of Andrea’s, her friends, hell even random acquaintances that she didn’t particularly like telling me that they’ve seen her spirit or she came to them in a dream or that in a moment of need she brought help or hope. I have been a year in and I have to say, it’s not something I’d experienced. In fact, the reality that others either believed it to be so or the mere fact that she’d helped others when we’ve struggled to get by without her actually weighed on me, even angered me.
But this . . . this was just a fix that I was never expecting. I honestly Never would have believed that this could have been coming. I get it, this is a possibly random set of circumstances. A lawsuit in the works for years, probably. The settlement really amounting to chump change to most people and that’s about it. Others got this on the same day, I’m sure, and it’s no big deal to them. A happy chance. But for us, this was cause to celebrate. I bought groceries. I filled up the car. I felt like someone was looking out for us.
I worry about making the claim my wife, Andrea, is responsible. The settlement is partly from her decisions and life as well, so she is in reality. But do I sit here and believe she’s dropped everything and saved us from the edge? I’m not sure. It’s the kind of thing she was good at, helping find a miracle at the last minute. But this . . . I would love to hope she had a hand in on it. I can breathe again, just for the few days. I can pay to live the rest of the week, until I get paid, social security checks come, the tax refund, all of it. I can get caught up.
But she’s not here. Not every day, maybe not at all. I don’t know. I still talk to her, sure, but I’m never certain there’s a receiver of that conversation. Most nights I feel like the words strike the air and blow away. I think they very well may.
One thing, though, that I know for sure. We are looking out for each other. Two years ago my sons would have asked for the world on a platter forged from pure silver. Today, they wouldn’t even ask for what they truly wanted. They wanted only to open something. The fact I promised them that big present isn’t what made them smile and go to be with a delightful exhaustion. It’s that they had a good birthday and I was there, along with their sisters. In the end, be it divine intervention or pure, unadulterated dumb luck, we still managed to get by.
We’re looking out for each other. We’re far better together than we ever are apart.