February 2000. We dance, awkwardly, my palm sweaty in his, his hand no doubt sticking clammily to the waist of my dress. The friendship is old, but the dancing is new. We are close enough that looking up into his face kinks my neck, so we just shuffle, the music playing, the heat of nervous skin radiating between and around us.
A gentle shove from invisible hands in the middle of my back propels me forward, and my head is suddenly resting on his chest. His cheek comes down to settle on my hair, and I am trying not to hyperventilate. The feeling is so right, it makes my head float. This is the closest I have ever stood to him, and I can barely understand how I got here.
With the hands, I feel-hear the echo of giggles from someplace in heaven. If we left them to their own devices, I can almost hear a voice say, it would take them absolutely ages to get together. I think there may be an eye roll somewhere in there. Wait a minute, is there really eye rolling in heaven?
August 2005. We kneel facing each other, grinning. I am finally his; he is finally mine. I’m too nervous, too excited, too happy to notice it, but I suspect that somewhere up above there is a collective sigh of relief. See? They took ages anyway.
February 2007. He knows immediately. “Something is different,” he tells me, and naively I laugh. “No way. All the leaflets say it takes three or four months for the body to come down off the pill. We’ve still got a while to wait.”
March 2007. I stare at the stick that I’m holding as the little positive sign grows clearer. But . . . but I was expecting a little more time to get used to the idea! And I feel the brush of a soul against my own, so impatient, so excited for life. And I remember those ghostly hands.
Was it you? I wonder.
Yes, definitely me.
But there was more than one set of hands.
And the moment passes, the time passes, and I know this soul has been waiting for her chance.
October 2010. I am caught up in this birth, the perfection of this moment. And I suspect that here too is an owner of ghostly, nudging hands. Another impatient child who knew her parents needed a little shove. Waiting for the first opportunity to jump to this earth life. And here she is.
May 2012. More nudging, but we’re not ready. Just wait, please, just wait.
October 2013. I didn’t know those words would make the waiting so long. The discovery of this child’s existence is a relief and a wonder, a little miracle in a world of miracles—but our very own miracle, which makes it special.
Was it you? I wonder again. I don’t know this time. I feel a little sadness in not knowing what happened to that May soul, not knowing if that soul will become my July baby or if it’s gone somewhere else for good. But the sadness is swallowed in the joy of this new life, coming whether or not I have ever felt this soul’s hands pressing against my back, nudging me to the future.
September 2015. I stare at myself in the mirror, my hand on my abdomen. Absolute terror and quiet peace do battle in my heart.
And the question comes again, and I laugh because really? How many of you were really necessary to get the job done? Was it you? I ask again.
And I’m pretty sure the answer is yes.