First, we shared my heart.
You—or at least the idea of you—dwelled there long before your spiritual existence manifested corporeally.
I felt you in the quiet spaces between heartbeats. You filled me with an incessant ache, a pain borne of my heart housing more love than it was designed to hold: It begged—demanded—to create you.
I felt the weight of you dangling from my heartstrings, anchoring me in a sea of hope, dreams, and possibility. In that intimate space, within the walls of my heart, we shared a future not yet realized.
In time, we shared my body.
When you eventually came to be—as I knew you would—we shared a lifeline. We shared my breath, my nutrients, and my immune system.
Even when you were still too small to physically fill my belly, you filled my soul. Often, I would run my hands over the still (mostly) flat surface of my abdomen, smiling at the thought of you living inside me. I found comfort in the knowledge that you were there, and that the body we shared was nourishing and protecting you.
Once you were big enough to be detected on an ultrasound, we shared an exam table at the doctor’s office.
I remember the way the doctor navigated the ultrasound wand inside me, gently guiding it to where you were. I was finally able to see you, and as I watched the tiny flickering of your heartbeat on the screen, my own heart—that first space that you and I shared—flickered back.
In that moment, our hearts spoke to one another.
Then the doctor pointed out a second flickering on the screen, and I learned that there were two of you. There were two babies sharing my womb. There were two souls sharing mine. And the space we shared in my heart grew to accommodate all three of us.
For 29 ½ weeks, my sweet boys, the two of you shared my belly. I watched it swell as I felt my heart do the same.
For the final few weeks of that time, the three of us shared a hospital bed in Hershey, PA.
We were so anxious to meet one another that the body we shared tried to expedite the process, attempting to bring you into this world at a mere 25 weeks. As much as I longed to see you, to cradle you, and to kiss your sweet faces, I knew it was too soon. I placed my hands on the swell of my belly, feeling your gentle kicks, and prayed for you to hold on just a little longer.
You did. So for another month, we continued to share my body (on bedrest).
And then the day came when we finally shared a delivery room, and the doctor cut into that physical space that you and I had shared for so long.
I remember the way he pulled you from my body and lifted your tiny faces to my own. In that moment, we shared our first kisses. We shared the air around us, the space around us, the world around us. We shared a miracle.
Those first few days after you were born were excruciating. For the first time in your lives, we found ourselves apart from one another. We no longer occupied the same physical space, and the separation was disorienting, almost debilitating. The two of you occupied different areas of the NICU, and I wasn’t yet allowed to hold you in my arms.
Yet, even though my body couldn’t share the tiny, enclosed spaces of your individual isolettes, my heart was there. It was there with you as you learned to breathe on your own. It was there with you as your feeding tubes took over my job of nourishing you. It was there with you as your frail little limbs learned how to move in this new, open, sometimes overwhelming world.
That’s right, my precious babies, my heart was right there with you. The more you grew—the more room you began to take up in this world—the greater my capacity to love became. You not only shared my heart, you also expanded it.
In your (almost) three short years of life, we’ve shared a lot of spaces.
We’ve shared rocking chairs, couches, and beds.
We’ve shared kiddie pools, tube slides, and church pews.
We’ve shared the tight space of a packed minivan, two apartments, three houses, and too many hotel rooms to count. (We’ve also shared the chaos that comes with Army life.)
We’ve shared the open road and my love for running. In fact, sometimes the only way I could get you to nap was to pop you in the double stroller and hit the roads for an hour or two.
You’ve shared my lap, and I’ve shared your toddler beds.
We’ve shared quiet spaces and loud spaces; small spaces and big spaces; hot spaces and cold spaces; happy spaces and sad spaces; familiar spaces and foreign spaces.
We’ve shared a thousand spaces: spaces that have come and gone, some we’ll remember, and some we won’t. And we’ll probably share a thousand more.
But no matter how many spaces we leave behind throughout our time together, no matter where life takes us—where life tries to separate us—I know there is one space where I will always be able to find you.
Because you—both of you—will always share my heart.