Dear Rory and Quinn,
I remember a day, not that long ago, when your mother and I were sitting on our kitchen floor together late, late at night, staring at our photo wall and reminiscing over various trips, adventures and explorations we’d gone on together. This was back before she was pregnant, back before I had cancer, back even before the thought of children was something “real”. This is back when we simply spoke of these things in thoughts that mostly began with, “Imagine when…” and, “Could you ever imagine…”
She asks me how many kids I’d like to have and I ask her if she’d rather have a boy or girl first. She tells me she’s always wanted a daughter with bright red hair and I tell her I want to learn to camp and be an “outdoors” family. I lie down and she puts her head on my stomach and I run my fingers through her hair and I shut my eyes and try to imagine what our child would look like; a game I’ve never been very good at; like staring into a crystal ball, all I can make out is fog and blurry figures.
She asks, “What if we can’t have kids?” and I say, “We’ll steal one.” She laughs and my eyes float over pictures of me with Kaidance and Jade with Clementine and the four of us – two humans and two dogs – driving down some unmarked dirt road with cows and pasture in the background. Jade asks me if I think it’ll be weird and I say, “I don’t know,” and she says, “Like, this… what we’re doing. What we are. This dynamic… Will it be gone forever?” and again I say, “I don’t know…”
She sits up and looks at me and says, “But it’s kind of exciting, isn’t it? It’s like, Hi, welcome. Welcome to our weirdness. Bring your own special brew and add it to the mix,” and then she mimes stirring a cauldron. She says, “Our kids are probably going to be kind of weird, huh?” and I say, “Hopefully.”
She sighs happily and lies back down and the two of us stare at that photo wall for the next five years while pictures come and go and people come and go and friends come and go and disease comes and goes and then you’re here, infiltrating our home and our hearts and our photo wall, taking over everything, one frame of existence at a time.
I remember Quinn rolling over for the first time in the living room. I remember her rolling over for the second time on the changing table and me thrashing out blindly in the dark and catching her halfway to the floor. I remember teaching Rory to walk on our Christmas vacation in Montana; me on one side of the room and Grandma June on the other, Rory waddling and weaving back and forth. I remember the first time Quinn walked all the way to the grocery store and back all by herself… I mean without assistance. Obviously, I didn’t send my one year old to the store alone…
I remember when you both started sleeping through the night and I remember teaching you your colors and how to count to ten and basic animal noises. I remember when you each started properly pedaling on your tricycles and climbing up and down stairs and jumping off of furniture and brushing your own teeth and potty training and speaking in complete sentences.
I have had so much fun with the two of you over the last two and a half years and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for us. You two are the absolute coolest people I know and you make me laugh every single day and bring more happiness to me than I probably deserve.
Thank you for reminding me of compassion and humanity and kindness. Thank you for showing me how to accept those around me without asking questions. Thank you for showing me a renewed sense of adventure and for challenging me to be the best man and father I possibly can be.
Now, I need you to do it again. I need you to help me. Tomorrow a very special package is being delivered into our care and I need the two of you to help your mom and I make sure that he or she feels welcomed into The Weirdness. I need you to show The Baby everything you’ve shown to me. I want the four of us – two adults and two children – to lie on the kitchen floor and stare at that photo wall and watch a new invader populate the frames with us.
Tomorrow, our lives are changing forever. Together.
Tomorrow is an enormous day.
Shut your eyes… can you picture their face?