Tankersley Family_0237bwclassic

Dear Luke and Lane,

We just celebrated your third birthday. An orange and pink party—as you requested—because Brother’s favorite color is orange and Sissy’s favorite color is pink.

I took a moment last night to just look at each of you for some time. To gaze. To capture you at this moment in your life. Not just a photograph, but to take you into my memory and carry that image with me.

Here’s what I saw . . .

Luke, to me, you are this unique combination between your dad and my dad. I love that about you. Your wide, Fred Flinstone feet, your big hands and big head, your fair skin, your beautiful light green eyes, and your dad’s face in most ways. When the doctor held you up over the blue surgical curtain on the day you were born, I didn’t recognize you. I didn’t know your face. And your infancy was about the two of us getting acquainted, and I have fallen in love with you. Now, it’s as if you are the most familiar thing in the world to me.

You have a purity about you that catches me off guard almost every day. Very, very clear on your preferences. And yet, also very deferent to those you love. Like your father, you don’t miss a detail in the world around you, always pointing out a lone hawk, the moon, an ant in the grass. You keep me aware of beauty. You keep me present. “Her needs her mommy,” you say if a little girl is crying at the playground. Tuned in to everyone and everything.

I like the way you debrief your day with me right before you fall asleep at night, often rehearsing the things that didn’t go quite right, that puzzled you, that worried you. I feel like I could break in two listening to such significant things come out of such a little man. I love you.

Lane, you are dark, which is different from me, and yet you have so many of the other traits of the girls in my family. When the doctor held you up to show me your face for the first time, one minute after I saw Luke, I knew you immediately. Your face was exactly as I expected. And yet, since then, you have developed this little twinkle that always keeps me guessing, makes me wonder what you’re up to, and most of all—who you are becoming. You are beguiling, and you are beautiful.

I can’t wait to see you with Baby Sister. When I found out we were having a girl, my first thought was you. How thrilled you would be to have a little sister and what amazing companions you two will be.

I love that you’d rather we sing you “Cat and Mouse” and “Rye Whiskey”—drinking songs—before you go to sleep instead of any kind of sweet lullaby. This is so quintessentially you. Spirited, creative, clever, brazen.

At least once every day, you grab my hand and say, “Mommy, can you come sit with me?” and you just want me to be by you. You have always needed a lot of close, physical attention. And it soothes me and calms me to be near you. In many ways, I feel as though I have always known you. Since you slept most of your entire infancy, we have spent a lot of time just cuddled up together. I hope we always do. I love you.

My greatest joy, Luke and Lane, has been to watch the incredible bond that you two share. You are so distinct from each other, and yet you are so connected. It’s an amazing thing to witness.

Raising twins presents challenges, and I have often wondered if we have been able to give you what you have each needed to begin your journey of becoming in this world. But when I see you two together and the great love you have for each other—this unexplainable knowing—I see that something profound has happened right before my eyes over these last three years.

We watched you snuggle up to each other in the womb, and the miracle of two separate lives interconnected in such a unique way continues to unfold each and every day. I am so profoundly grateful to have been a part of this miracle.

My very favorite picture of the two you remains the one that the nurses took in the hospital with you swaddled together into one big blanket, in daddy’s arms. He has a surgical mask over his nose and mouth, but you can tell by his eyes that he’s smiling the most full-tilt smile.

It was like we just got handed the most absolutely-no-words-for gift. Three years later, I’m still speechless in so many ways. Shocked that we’ve all survived these early, intense days. And also silenced by the unspeakable gift that is you two.

Happy Birthday, Luke and Lane.

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