“I didn’t hit him, Mom! I swear!”
Eliza felt her dark brown eyes roll sharply up in her head of their own volition just as an exhausted sigh brushed past her lips. Garret and Troy were only six. “They are only six,” She even let the words, now made a mantra come forth, massaging her back into a place of calm…at least mostly.
Troy, whose face was just as twisted in frustration as the crumpled clothing of Garret’s shirt, trapped with in his fist, hollered just as loudly. “Yes you did! Ma, he’s lying! You are such a liar, Garret.”
Eliza would have laughed at the way Troy said his twin brother’s name, unintentionally exchanging the ‘r’ sound for that of a ‘w,’ transforming his brother’s name into something akin to “Gaywit,” but instead she reached forward and pried the two apart, only for them to rush back together again in a tangle on the floor.
It was a daily routine, as soon as she walked in the door, after a hard day of work, pulling the twins apart and off the floor. Soothing bruises with kisses, chastising when the need arose, which was also daily, but receiving and giving hugs wrapped in “I love you.”
It was something that was also needed-it more than anything else.
It kept them together…in a good way.
It had been thirteen months. Thirteen months, sixteen days and nearly eleven and a half hours since their world, Eliza, Troy and Garret’s, had been shattered, when she became a single mom to twins who were not her own, and a widow to a man who had left his sons far too soon. He had left her far too soon.
Thinking about it made the back of her eyes sting and her lip draw inward as she fought off the tears. They came far less often than they once had. Back then she nearly drowned in the liquid that sprang from her eyes.
She hadn’t noticed that the boys had stopped rolling across the floor, pummeling each other, until she felt their warm hands take hold of hers. Garret’s wet lips kissed her palm. “Sorry, Mom.”
“Yeah, sorry, Mom.”
She smiled, hearing yet again the absence of Troy’s r’s. She knelt down and pulled the boys into her arms and squeezed them until they complained and wiggled out of her grasp, but only after they had exchanged their kisses. They looked so much like their father…and their father’s mother, Dina.
It was amazing how God worked things out, how He could mend a broken thing with something else that was broken.
Dina had never liked Eliza, had made every attempt to voice her opinion about it and her disdain for her son having married her. It had pushed Peter away from his mother and yet it was Peter’s death that pulled Dina to Eliza.
Dina, she was the one who shook Eliza out of her stupor. She was the one who told her she didn’t have a choice but to live, wouldn’t leave Eliza’s house until she had made it clear that she would live again. She was the one who told her she was too young to give up, that love didn’t die and that Peter’s love didn’t die for her.
It was Peter’s loved that pushed them together and Gods love that kept them together.
Dina came out of the kitchen just as the twins ran into the family room and Eliza rose from her knees. She tossed the dish towel in her hands over her shoulder, and just like she had for the last seven months, brushed the hair from Eliza’s eyes, cupped her face and kissed her cheek like only a mother could.
She then smiled at her as she patted her cheeks. “You get those boys a father and they won’t be such a handful.”
And like every time Dina said those words, and every time Eliza tried to refuse the thought, Dina’s hand would press against Eliza’s heart. “That heart is ready for love. It’s love that has kept it together.”