It was a typical evening at home, our messy living room filled with endless toys scattered about. As my daughter and I began to clean up the piles, a simple comment took my breath away.
“Mommy, I wish Parker and Abby could come down from Heaven to play with me.”
A lump formed in my throat as I fought back the tears, not wanting my daughter to see the sadness that suddenly washed over me. As I gathered the Legos into a bin, I let this moment sink in. I knew the day would eventually come when my child would long for her brother and sister to be by her side. On the outside, she appears to be an only child, but she isn’t. My daughter is a triplet.
It’s no secret when you walk inside our house, there are memories of three perfect babies and a family left to balance life between Heaven and earth. There are pictures of our premature babies and little momentos of their time in the NICU. There are two small hearts engraved with initials, protecting the remains of our two children who are no longer here. And there’s a beautiful picture with our daughter, two shadows next to her as if her brother and sister were with us, making a perfect family of five.
While our daughter understands she has a brother and sister, she doesn’t fully grasp how our bittersweet life came to be. That fateful day is engraved in my memory no matter how many years go by. It only takes one moment for my heart to start racing as I think back to the day my triplets arrived. Three babies born more than 17 weeks premature, none of them expected to survive at 22 weeks gestation. Yet each of them were strong at just one pound a piece, their fighting personalities on display for the room full of doctors and nurses. But our lives were forever shattered when our first born passed away just hours later. And we once again faced unbearable grief when our son passed away after 55 days of life.
As I quietly watched my daughter clean up her toys, a few tears gently rolled down my face. Our life is quite different from what I pictured when I found out I was pregnant with triplets. There are no built-in best friends, no pulling hair and fighting, no loud whispers when they should be sleeping in the wee hours of the night. Instead, my surviving triplet quietly plays by herself, often including our dog in her kitchen concoctions and pretend picnics. She builds forts for her dolls and I catch her talking to her Barbies, never once complaining that she has no one to play with. After all these years, she doesn’t know any different.
Once the toys were picked up, I brought my daughter to my lap, hugging her as I told her I loved her. “I miss your brother and sister,” I whispered as I kissed her head. It’s something I whisper to myself every single day.
For the first time, I could understand her five-year-old mind, and the sadness she felt because Parker and Abby are not physically here. I turned on the computer, opening up a lifetime of memories under the file labeled “2013”. Together, my daughter and I poured through pictures and smiled at videos of her and her brother together in the NICU. “Let me see it again,” she repeatedly exclaimed, so excited to see her siblings. While two of our children may not be here on earth, they will always be part of our lives.
With a full heart, we climbed up the stairs, my tired daughter gently rubbing her eyes along the way. Emotionally drained, I tucked my child into bed and gave her one more kiss on her head.
“I’m going to dream about my brother and sister,” my girl whispered, as her eyes fluttered off to sleep. Through the tears, I whispered back, “Sweet dreams beautiful girl. Tell Parker and Abby that Mommy says hello.”