I sit wrapped in a towel while the boys splash in the baby pool. We are waiting for the end of adult swim so Sam can return to the things he is trying to learn: jumping into the water, getting his face wet, remembering to keep his mouth closed — all things he insists on doing without his life vest since there are others here, boys from his class, who are already master swimmers. It is new to see Sam so self-conscious, so aware of these types of things.
I watch his smile stretch now as he notices, just moments after I have, two identical little boys. Twins like me and John! he shouts. I nod to their mother, who is on the other side. They are four and dressed in the same navy blue swim trunks and splash guards. I glance over at John — he is doing finger puppets and flicking them up in the air while yelling to the sky, Elmo, hello! Hello Elmo! Elmo has been going everywhere with us lately.
My gaze is drawn back to the twins in the water, Sam now between them. He is amazed at their size, their animated gestures and words — so am I, for that matter. I feel a twinge of what might have been, if only…if only…quickly followed by a stab of guilt that I would change anything, anything at all. But to see John talk like that to his brother…?
Sometimes it is hard, harder than anything I ever imagined.