As many of you experienced firsthand, read online or saw on Facebook... the benefit last night was nothing short of amazing.
It was comforting to see so many faces. Some familiar, some I haven't seen in years, many of whom I have never met. Andy took the kids home after just a few minutes because it was just all too overwhelming for our Ben and he let me stay longer in order to visit. Wall-to-wall people and police escorts are generally very foreign to most four-year-olds. Plus, Ben was just so exhausted.
I wish there was a way for Andy to have stayed with me, too. So many would have loved to see him as well. But Benjamin has been very protective of his parents lately. He gets anxious when just one of us is gone and asks about us constantly until we return. Andy was kind enough to care for the kids until I came home just to sing to them before bed.
I received so much comfort from all of the friendly faces. Their stories. Their encouragement. But there was one category of people that made me feel especially emotional.
Other mothers of twins.
I know this story resonates with a lot of different people for a lot of different reasons. But I wonder if other moms of twins perhaps can feel our pain more than the average mom.
When the boys were born, it was easy to treat them as a 'set.' They were, after all, a 'two for one' kinda package deal. When one was hungry, we fed both. When one woke up, we woke up the other. When we bought a toy, we bought an identical one for his brother. It was easier that way. And in many ways, it was survival. It was difficult to tell them apart starting at about three months. I couldn't even tell them apart from their cries.
But the differences seemed to increase as the boys grew older. We'd see hints of personality in how they'd paint, how quickly they responded to directions, how they responded to potty training, making a mess, etc. And those differences seemed to multiply when they started preschool a few mornings a week this past fall.
It's difficult to explain to others, but having stayed home with them for the past five years, I can now tell them apart by their voice, their face, their hair, their walk.
Jack, my firstborn by one minute, tends to be the leader. Determined. Competitive. Independent. He demands respect and has always required a lot of attention from his daddy. Ever since he was born, we've said that Jack has had a sparkle in his eye. Inquisitive and thoughtful. And also a bit of an instigator.
Ben is my compliant and self-sacrificing second-born. He is eager to please and does not like confrontation. Always the peacemaker, Ben is also the first to go in for the hug. And the first to smile for pictures. He's a natural born teacher where things like kindness and thoughtfulness seem to be second-nature.
And yet, they rely on each other in ways that most siblings might not. Because they've always been together. Always. Womb-mates and roommates. Jack didn't like sleeping alone when Ben was in the hospital. Ben always wanted to call and talk to his brother when he was away. Ben has always been cool about taking direction from his brother, and Jack has always received confidence from Ben's quiet strength.
As hokey as it may sound, it's like they have one heart and two souls.
It seriously breaks my heart to think about separating them.
I took them both to Target a few weeks ago, just after Ben had gotten out of the hospital after brain surgery. We got the normal comments of, "Hey, are you twins?" where I'd just smile and nod. But I was surprised when both boys perked up.
"Yeah, we're twins!" Ben said.
And then Jack followed with, "And we're brothers, too!"
It warmed my heart to think about how these boys have come to process their relationship with their brother. Their pal. Their best friend.
Andy and I get overwhelmed when we think about what life may look like without one of our kids here with us. We get overwhelmed to think about what life may look like during the transition and what we will tell Jack. But worrying is not helpful. If anything, it is a black hole. It's not that we're refusing to acknowledge the truth. It's that we cannot handle thinking about much more than one day at a time.
"And we know that in all things
God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose."
God has already brought so much good from this. And even if God doesn't answer our prayers in the way I'm praying He will, I know that He will continue to care for our family, especially in the lives of our favorite twins, Jonathan and Benjamin. Just as He always has.