Stroking the soft red curls that grace the head of my son. And braiding the straight brown locks that graze the shoulders of my daughter.
Listening to my bookworm of a daughter read aloud, her voice filled with glee. And hearing my son gripe in his garbled chatter while I attempt to read him just a fraction of a story.
Feeling my son wrap his arms tightly around my leg, as his desire to be close to mama continues to grow. And detecting my daughter’s strong sense of independence as she readily flees the grasp of my arms.
Complimenting my daughter as she savors a plate full of veggies. And correcting my son as he casually tosses each pea and every carrot onto the floor, displeased that his tray isn’t filled with something more mouthwatering.
Adoring the fair, blemish-free complexion of my son’s plump face. And admiring the freckles of my daughter’s sun-kissed features.
These are the moments when I am filled with gratitude.
Gratitude for having the opportunity to watch these children grow and develop. Their physical characteristics as different as their personality traits.
And these are the moments when grief simultaneously creeps in.
Grief as I wonder which traits and characteristics their siblings would have shared and which attributes would have set them apart. It’s not just me or my husband that missed the opportunity to know the two who are gone. It’s the children who are here that also missed a relationship with their siblings, lives they have never known, but with whom they share DNA.
I consider what the two missing siblings would have had in common with the two who are present, my sunshine baby and rainbow baby.
Would they have had red hair or brown? Straight or curly?
A thirst for knowledge or plagued by distraction?
Clingy or independent?
An appetite geared towards nutrition or one that prefers more flavorful fare?
I am indescribably grateful for the children I have, but that doesn’t erase the grief I feel for the two who are mine only by memory. And in recognizing what I have, I become aware of what I don’t.