Hard to fathom how nine years can fold itself into the span of a few seconds, but it happens. I looked out the window into the sunlight peeking through the clouds and the hands of my first son and daughter wrapped themselves around my heart. It is a testament to the changes in me since 2003 that I did not cry to feel the pressure. I only lowered my head while coming to grips with what I knew was on the way. It's their birthday, the day that growing up and being a man were no longer optional.
They came into our lives in a fire drill of life, under duress and much too early for anyone. They had no choice, and neither did we. It was a terrifying, awesome spectacle that I believe no one wants to witness, but having gone through it I cannot deny the effect the whole delivery process had on me. There will be no forgetting the urgency of the operation. There will be no unseeing of the blood and the machines, the focus of so many to preserve the lives of two tiny babies.
Small, delicate, and ultimately too fragile, yet they made a man out of me. More precisely, they made a new man out of me, by bringing me face to face with the evolution I had long postponed. Our babies made me grow up. Fast.
What to say to them, on this day upon which they would have been nine years old? What can I tell them? What can I give to them, to their memories?
As parents many of us may want to believe that our children will be our legacy, and for many that is true. For me through them, however, it is not. At least as long as I am on this earth, the man that I became is destined to be their legacy.
My children shaped me, forged me, poured me into a new mold. If on this their birthday I do weep it will not be tears of anguish at their loss, it will be tears of joy. I will celebrate the day they came into the world and bestowed upon me the honor of being their father.
Nine years, my children. I have your memory in my mind and your love in my heart. Happy birthday, son and daughter. You are no longer of this earth, but you are loved.