When the twins were small — so small that we marveled at the size of their little toes and held our hand up to their hands just to see how much larger our fingers were — we used to dance.
Left to our own devices, as our parents decided to go shopping for home improvement projects, my sister and I would have two bundles of joy to babysit with endless energy pouring out of each one. By this time, the boys would have been 1 or 2 or even 3 years old, which would have made it 1999 or later, and that would have put my sister and myself at the ages of 15 and 14, or 16 and 15, etc.
We were teenagers, busy with our own adolescent dramas unfolding in the midst of a daily schedule of club meetings and band practices. And though by this time we knew how to change a diaper and give two babies with chubby cheeks a bath, complete with bubbles on their heads, the challenge of how to entertain the twins for a full day was something we were still struggling with.
Sometimes we would get frustrated, children that we were, and when the twins cried because their parents were gone, or when they fought with each other over a toy, we would quickly lose our tempers and test the volume of our young voices in an attempt at discipline. That was the exception, though, as we had before us our loving relationship as sisters and our unconditional love for these two radiant beams of light, and we knew how to have a good time, even in the rain and the snow.
I remember dancing
Maybe it was wintertime when we danced, when we ran out of ideas on how to occupy the twins and entertain them in a way that would sufficiently wear them out. Happy for the break of their afternoon naps, we had to keep them active so that they could take their nap during the day and still be able to sleep that night.
So when the winds blew hard or the storms rolled in, or for some other reason the weather wasn’t agreeable to the pitter-patter of little feet outside, we would turn to our parents’ collection of musical albums and turn on the entertainment.
At the time, we could hardly stomach Led Zeppelin and many of the other remnants of the 70s, so we put in the random classical music compilations that hid in a corner of the stereo closet. Then we scooped up our brothers, one in the arms of each sister, and we danced across the room.
We cradled the twins in our arms, holding one hand out and enclosing arms on the other side, and we swept across the living room floor, mimicking ballroom dances, like the waltz or the tango, and swing. Sometimes we pulled their beloved blankies with light-blue silk sewn into the borders into the dance, covering their faces and playfully swinging the blankies like capes, as we glided across the house.
The twins would smile from ear to ear and giggle with delight as they felt the breeze on their face, sailing across the living room and twisting in circles, faster and faster. They would shriek with happiness when we would offer their bodies a dip lower to gravity, bending our bodies to the ground in what would have otherwise been a romantic motion. Whenever a dance finished, my sister and I would be panting to catch our breath, and our little brothers would immediately offer up their arms from their place on the couch, asking for another and yet another.
These days were usually filled with the smell of cookies baking in the house or a break with lemonade in the afternoon, and the memory is so vivid in my mind that I can practically taste it!
The last dance
I don’t remember the last time I danced with my brothers, specifically, though I can remember young Lawrence’s gleeful giggle and young Thomas’s charming smile. But whenever the last dance was, there was no way that I could have known that it was the last dance.
Now, I shudder at the thought of dancing. I want to, in a way, because it is such a gesture of freedom and such a beautiful form of expression. But how can I when my two littlest dancing partners are gone? In fact, I would have loved to dance with them at my wedding. But my eyes tearing up, that is another subject entirely.
My colleagues at work were kind enough, after the accident, to offer me a gift card to a jazz club, and though it is the perfect gift… A confession: I haven’t cashed it in yet.
It is so difficult to think of dancing, and maybe we will go to the jazz club to enjoy the music from the sidelines, but in short, as words fail me…
I guess this is just to say that I miss you, Thomas and Lawrence. And I miss dancing with you. I hope that in some way, somewhere, you will be able to dance again, and shriek and giggle and smile.
It seems so silly to think of you on top of a cloud, beside a guy with a big grey beard, but maybe your souls live on somehow. Maybe somehow your dance isn’t done.