Dear Lila and Victoria,
It was on a subway platform in Midtown that you two were given the promise of life, the instant we decided neither of you had much of a chance of one. Or at least I had decided you didn't stand much of a chance. I'm not positive your mom agreed with me; she was too sick to contribute much of anything to the discussion.
"We would be fools to make a decision based on them," I said.
"Bleurgh," your mom said.
Them was you. Were you. Were Lila and Victoria. You didn't have names yet. Hell, you barely even had heartbeats.
If you still had heartbeats.
We had flown from Austin to New York City because your mom had a job interview here. It was our first trip to the city and it was not going well.
"Remember," I said. "The funny thing thing about regret is, it's better to regret something you have done than to regret something you haven't done."
"Bleurgh," your mom said, which may have meant, "That's true," or may have meant, "I don't think we should make life decisions based on Butthole Surfer lyrics." Most likely it meant, "Take me back to the hotel. Sightseeing is over," even though the only sights we had seen so far were a subway platform in Midtown.
The decision facing us was whether or not we should uproot our family and move to New York. On the surface, it was a ludicrious idea. We had neither friends nor family in the New York City area and your mom was nine-weeks pregnant with twins. Did I say on the surface it was ludicrious? Because I meant to say it was ludicrious deep down, too.
Your sister Kathryn was four years old. In the time between her birth and our subway platform discussion, three separate heartbeats had each held court in your mother's uterus, three heartbeats that had lasted for months, then disappeared. Nobody knew why. You two were heartbeats four and five. We had no reason to believe you'd last much longer either. The only evidence we had that you were still existing even then was the fact that your mom couldn't go an hour without either a nap or a bucket. Most hours she needed both.
So there, right there on the platform, surrounded by the unfamiliar smell of a New York spring seeping down from above, we agreed to take the job if it were offered, because the only reason to turn it down was you two, and you two didn't appear to have much of a chance.
And thus, just to prove us wrong, your heartbeats strengthened. Stubbornly, resourcefully, for thirty more weeks they grew stronger, as if nothing could please you two more than making us look like idiots.
Happy fourth birthday, Lila and Victoria. May your hearts continue to prove us fools for many more years to come.