Dear Atlas

You’re almost here, and I’m almost crazy with anticipation. As much as I like being patient with most things, I think you’ve made me wait long enough. Grandpa and Grandma are here to see you, but they’re leaving next Friday. They want to see you and play with you before they leave, so you should hurry up and get here.

I’ve heard that babies tend to develop better if they’re in there a little past full term, but you have a pretty good head start.

For one, your mom is incredible! She’s super funny. She’s also the most beautiful woman you’ll ever see. Don’t think that’s all she has, though. She’s really smart, so don’t try to get away with anything. The best thing to do is always tell her the truth. You can’t out-debate her. Believe me, I’ve tried.

And your sister is a genius, too! She’s already reading and doing math way above her level. Get ready, though, because you may have to endure a few tea parties and dress-ups. She has a super big heart, so prepare for lots of love! You have to be careful, though, because that big heart of hers is also very sensitive. Give her lots of love and protect her when we can’t.

Outside the home, we live in a nice neighborhood with lots of kids for you to play with. We even have a race track right next to an airport! It’s a small town, with a little lake right down the road. We’ll take you there for swimming, tennis and the awesome playground!

I know you’re super comfortable and get “womb service” (that’s what your sister calls it), but there’s a lot out here to see and experience. Sure, it gets cold and hot and rainy, but that’s what helps makes this world beautiful! You’re gonna get bumps and bruises, too, but that’s all part of growing up and becoming You.

You haven’t heard “Love” yet, at least not outside the womb, but there’s a lot out here for you. You and Mom have had a long time to bond, so come out and let me have some time with you. I’m a little jealous. I want to add all my love to what Mom has already given you. I already know you’re worth it.

I Love You,
Dad

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Dear Taylor

Dear Taylor,

Oh, how much one week can change a person’s life.

Last week I was planning a post about my novel and a couple of other arbitrary things—arbitrary in comparison to recent events, that is. I procrastinated writing the post, and ended up with material for this post, although it’s material I never dreamed I’d ever have to write about.

Last Friday, you were killed in a motorcycle accident at the tender age of 22. You were my favorite cousin and best friend. We were inseparable any time we were near each other. I hate that I had to lose you. You weren’t supposed to die yet. We were supposed to spend a lifetime of fun and memories before having to worry about the end of our lives.

You had an amazing set of friends and family. Every minute I was there this week, people were asking me how I was doing and offering me tons of sympathy. It made it so much easier to have that amount of support. Even with all that sympathy, though, my trip there was really hard. I was constantly reminded of the memories we made together—the places we rode our bikes, the house you used to live in that looked like a “barn,” the restaurants we ate at…all those places screamed at me every time I passed by.

Everybody said you always talked about me and wanted to be just like me. Unfortunately, I didn’t do my part by talking to you like I should have. I didn’t call or write or email or message you on facebook. I just lived my life as if you were going to be here forever. My biggest take-away from this has been that stark realization that I failed at being your best friend. I didn’t know how much I loved you until you were gone. I’ve heard that so many times before, but it didn’t mean much to me until last week.

Ashley did really well at the viewings and kept her emotions in check. She stayed strong, so everyone else would have hope that things were going to be okay. I admire her for that, but I also know that she’s going to be going through the roughest time of her life in the next few months.

Your dad was strong, too. He really held it together well. The most astonishing thing he did was clean your helmet without shedding a tear. I don’t know how on earth he did it. I don’t think I could have made it through that whole process with such composure. You made him proud.

Your mom saw me the first day I was there and said I looked exactly the same, no matter how much facial hair I try to grow. She was crying every time I saw her, understandably. She loved you more than anything, and it was very apparent. You should let her know you’re doing alright from time to time. I know she would love that.

Trey looked completely different from the last time I saw him. The last time I remember seeing him was when we tried to get him to put on his shoes, so we could ride our bikes to Bob’s house. He was such an ornery little fella, but I know you loved him and always will.

As for me, I’m doing alright. I can’t believe that the number one person in my life, besides Eva and Talon and my parents, was taken from me so soon. I had never cried out of pure emotion before this week. I’ve had many conversations with my wife about my inability to cry, so I decided to pray about it. I asked God to show me how to cry, how to reach the deep emotions that have eluded me for so long. Unfortunately, a couple days later, I received word that you had passed in a motocross accident.

I’ve fought so hard with the notion that I caused your death with my prayer. It all happened so close together. Not only that, the jersey you were buried in said “Answer” on it. No other words or colors, just cold, black and white lettering.

After talking with a few people and thinking about it, I remembered the story of Job in the Bible. He lost everything he ever owned, including his family, and still stayed true to God. But it wasn’t God that took everything away. It was Satan trying to destroy his faith. That helped me realize that it wasn’t my prayer, although I still struggle with it from time to time.

On a much happier note, your son, Braxton, is finally here. He was born yesterday at 5 pounds 4 ounces and 19 inches long. He will never know how wonderful you were and that makes me so sad. It hurts to know that he will have to go through life without you. I know you would have done an amazing job at raising him.

Here’s a picture of him. Only your kid would be smiling and picking his nose! He looks like a little Dr. Seuss character, which I know you would love. I can’t wait for him to grow up, so I can tell him about all of our memories. I’ll make sure he chases rabbits at least once. I’ll even give him the salt.

I will always love you and miss you Taylor. You mean so much to me.

Love Your Twin,

Ryan

P.S. There are 926 words in this letter. I thought you might like that.