I woke up this morning to giggles; my boys were at it again. I smiled and got out of bed, just in time to make a quick breakfast before they head off to middle school.
It’s always the same thing, over hard eggs and two pieces of toast for Theo, a bowl of oatmeal and two mini sausages for Guffy. Guffy is actually Geoffrey, the only existing proof I had twins. His sister died five years ago. A loss which barely affects him; he tells me she’s still with him. He feels her presence whenever he needs her company. Guffy and Theo are the only one’s coping—I and Pete, their dad, are stuck in the past and can’t get past Sorrowville.
Pete’s schedules himself to start work early. He leaves home at 6 a.m. unfailingly, even though the pharmacy doesn’t open until nine, and is only a ten minute drive from home. Today is our 15th anniversary, and my heart drowns in this sludge of misery. Only previously, I was wading through it. Similar to last year, we are going to spend our day, apart and do separate things. It would be like any other day for last five years. Except for my boys, who usually get me something nice to mark the day and tell me I’m a great mom. Always bringing a smile to my face they do, but I don’t feel like such great mom after our loss.
The deafening silence of my thoughts was broken amidst greetings of happy anniversary mom. Their interruption was welcome; I was almost done fixing their meal. Besides, their presence brought in some sunshine: something I desperately needed.
I was putting butter on Theo’s toast, when he comes and hugs me. He is always the first to hug me. But no sooner than he started hugging me this time, Guffy comes and hugs me from behind. Surprised, I tried to look at his face. He was not going to wait until Theo finished hugging me this time. He wanted his hug now. Theo looked at his younger brother and smiled, moving aside to enable him get a proper hug. Guffy hugged me a bit longer, while Theo got out the orange juice from the fridge.
Nestling my head gently on his chest, my overgrown 6ft 3, thirteen year old, whispered, “It’s gonna be okay mom, he’s doing the best he can”. It took all of my inner strength to keep tears from falling as I smiled up at him and nodded. “I know baby, I know.”
Guffy slobbered on my cheek from his kiss, always the joker. I feigned disgust and he burst into laughter.
They wolfed down their breakfast and left in a hurry, so as not to miss their school bus at the end of our street. Back in our bedroom, I picked up Pete’s t-shirt and sniffed, the only intimacy I have shared with him over the last five years…I do this every morning, and each time the tears flow. Today, I sniffed harder and longer than ever before; I smiled, first in my head until I could feel the smile form on my face.
My usual tears refused to make an appearance. I think the smile from earlier had something to do with it. I looked around our room with clear and sting-free eyes. My eyes rested briefly on our photograph, on Pete’s side of the bed. I remember the exact day the photo was taken; the day we found out I was pregnant with twins.
I have seen the picture a thousand times. Today I saw it through different eyes. Instead of sadness, I saw hope: an endless possibility of better tomorrows. The sunshine of a smile seems to have thawed away the frost of misery. I got into bed and stared at the ceiling, still smiling. Theo’s words returned to me, “He’s doing the best he can”.
Pete is doing the best he can, how best he knows. But I realize I have to do a little more than he does. I know I have the strength. I will not weep anymore. It’s time to stop mourning and acknowledge the living; live life and stop existing. It’s time to break this ailing tradition we started.
Today, I’ll do something different. Still smiling and Guffy’s whisper fresh in my ears, I hurried to the bathroom for a wash. If I hurry, I’ll catch Pete before the rush hour begins.