We took this photo when there were two.

On a warm, July night, five years ago – when the sand burned the bottoms of my soles and the air smelled like salt and heat. I held my belly between the palms of my hands and felt the tangle of limbs kicking within. Two boys tumbled and rolled and life collided with possibility and promise.

And then, the waves rose and the sandcastles crumbled and the world which I had so tenderly held disappeared.

We took this photo when there were two.

Before we knew the babies were sick.

Before the rush of blood from one to the other.

Before his heart stopped.

Before the world changed.

A few days later, I sat in a NICU chair, listening to the beep of machines and the gurgle of a breathing tube. The stitches in my abdomen pulled as I leaned over and reached my hand through the arm-sized opening on the side of the incubator. My fingertips fluttered over the tiny babe that lay within, watching as his stomach sucked in and out with the effort to breathe.

My body felt tightened by pain. Wrapped in the knowledge of loss and life; of sorrow that blooms and bleeds.

I watched this little boy sleep and wondered what the tomorrows would hold.

A little boy who came into the world on my absolute worst day but, in the process, brought with him such perspective and joy.

Five years ago, everything changed.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t still hurt. Time may lessen the weight of grief but it’s days like this where it becomes so much easier to see what could have been. It’s easier to see the candles that aren’t blown out and the presents that remain unpurchased and unwrapped. It’s easier to see the empty chairs and to hear the missing laughter. Moment by moment the tears and memories and dreams collide.

But these days bring something else too – the lessons learned through the years of loving and missing. Lessons of life and gratitude, of cherishing and building, leaning and clinging.

My heart has been stretched, torn, and tenderly stitched together. The scars it bears are a gift of love.  And that love bleeds deeper and more brilliant than anything I could have ever dreamed.

Two boys made me a mama.

Their twin bond runs deep but today they share different anniversaries.

One celebrates his fifth birthday with us.

One celebrates his fifth birthday with Jesus.

And I celebrate the day these two beautiful, precious little lives changed mine forever.

Today, we’re celebrating two.



First There Were

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