My mom just emailed me some pictures of our friend Melanie's children. Radha, Everett, and David. Her fourth child, Henry, died of SIDS 5 1/2 years ago. That makes David nearly 6 (he and Henry are twins), Everett 7, and Radha 8 1/2.
Un-fucking-believable. When I met Melanie, she was about 6 months pregnant with Radha. I first held Radha when she was a week old. She had very long fingers. I didn't meet Everett until he was 3 or 4 months old, because I was living in another city when he was born. We fell in love instantly. His first word was "Annika," at only 4 months. The first time he held out his arms to be picked up, it was to me. I lived with them for about a year, and while I'm certain he knew Melanie was Mommy, he had practically no preference between us unless he was hungry (he found out the hard way* that my breasts weren't useful). David and Henry were born while I was away at college, and I met them at Christmas, when they were 2 months old. My mother and I went with Melanie and all the children to Sam's Club, and I had David in one of those snuggly baby carriers, like a backpack on your belly. People kept coming up to me and complimenting me on my beautiful baby, and being shocked when I pointed out his twin brother. I reluctantly explained that they weren't mine.
When Henry died I got a phone call at 8:00 in the morning from my friend Emily. I went into shock - absolute shock. I couldn't eat, or do anything really, all day. I somehow made it through my classes. Sometime that night I got sick of my friends trying to be helpful and sympathetic, and went off to see this boy I knew. He and I had recently amused all of our friends by announcing our engagement, despite not being involved with each other. It was...I don't know. It was funny at the time. He gave me a drink and told me a joke and kissed me. I slapped him. Then I kissed him, and wound up sleeping in his room. He was (mostly) a perfect gentleman. Bless him.
The second-to-last time I saw Everett (he and I were closest, though I love all of my babies), he spotted me from across a crowded room and came running. He was probably 3 at the time, and hadn't seen me in a year. When he turns 18 I just might marry him. Except, you know, ewww.
*I was bathing him, and the easiest way was to just get into the tub with him, because he was so tiny and the kichen sink was, well, full of dishes. Man alive, was that ever the strangest sensation! When a 6 month old baby latches on, there isn't much you can do about it.