Two days ago the “babies” turned three. It snowed. Buckets. This is disconcerting, I told my husband as I envisioned trash islands and swiss-cheese ozone layers. In the morning we had marveled at the big, wet flakes. In the afternoon we watched the nearly green grass steadily disappear, and by the time I was set to make a last minute run to the grocery store before their birthday party, we stared open-mouthed at the road which was predicted to simply be “wet” become completely covered with snow.
I made my way to into the grocery store determined to pick up the twins’ birthday cakes and balloons, sloshing through the giant, wet puddles of slush and snow in the parking lot. It was April 14th. Snow in March you can complain about; snow in April you just kind of stare in wonder. As I struggled to evade the deep wells of slush and water, I realized people weren’t complaining, per se, instead they appeared to be too befuddled for negativity. What? Really? Three inches of snow in April? As she handed me the two birthday cakes (one Elsa, one velociraptor), the woman at the bakery noted how there was an inch of snow outside for every year of the twins’ lives. The clerk who filled up the balloons said her friend had triplets, and now they’re in their 40s. “She would try to feed them with separate spoons, but eventually she gave up and just went down the line,” she smiled to herself. “I’ve always wanted twins,” she said. Later on, as the cashier scanned the balloons and cakes, she advised that we “should take pictures of them having a snowball fight.”
The snow still hadn’t let up when I returned home. “Ba-oons!” they squealed with delight. I wanted to take their pictures, so Jacob brought in the small bench from the porch outside. “We take your picture on this bench every year,” I told them, pointing to the one from their first birthday that hangs on our family room wall. “Except this year we have to take it inside!” “Yeah,” they said matter-of-factly, convincing me they understood. As I took their pictures, Mae volleyed between kissing Everett on command and eying the camera with her no-nonsense, diva scowl.
I realized Everett and Mae are like snow in April too– maybe that’s how they get away with anything– with their shenanigans of snacking on whole loaves of bread and distributing orange peels over the carpet like bits of confetti and dumping small bins of matchbox cars for the fun of it. Their antics are like snow in April– challenging and frustrating, yes– but mostly just a source of bewilderment to the point of wonder. Really? You just worked on opening that bag of shredded mozzarella cheese with baby scissors for the past ten minutes to eat it by the fistfuls? Really? It reminds me of over three years ago. The ultrasound tech’s nails tapping on the screen: It’s twins, she informed. You’re sure, really? Confusion, to shock, to wonder.
After the party we read Frog and Toad. We read about how Toad cannot come up with a story to tell Frog when Frog lies sick in bed. Frustrated that he cannot think of a tale for his friend who is feeling “green”, Toad chooses to walk back and forth on the porch in an attempt to find inspiration. He even bangs his head (literally) on a wall to come up with a story– only to exhaust himself with trying, winding up in the bed himself. So Frog, now upright and feeling better, tells Toad a story instead, and it is simply the story of Toad’s trying. He tells the story that was there all along, because it was the story he had been given. There is always a story- even if it’s just the story of what is. How often do we discover that in our attempts to find a story, we have already been living one.
The night of their birthday, Mae fell asleep clutching her tube of M&M’s from her great-aunt. Everett had to be replaced in bed several times. I kissed them long and hard- my babies who aren’t really babies. Clutching the moment so I could feel it, weirdly smelling their hair and smoothing their temples. They are the story I have been given.
Now, two days later, Sunday’s snow has melted. Now, three years later, they walk and talk. Yesterday- the middle day– between the beginning and the end– I noticed how the large clumps of wet snow on the newly budding branches might also be flowers in the right light.