Jane sat in the rocking chair, staring out the window, not moving, not seeing, not feeling. The setting sun glistened on the fresh spring snow on the mountains to the south, the new green leaves budding on the dogwood tree spoke of the warmth of the spring days, daffodils and tulips poked out of the ground with polka dots of color, a fresh wind moved the curtains in the window. None of this woke Jane's senses at this moment.
What she saw was in her mind's eye, a day more than 35 years ago. The dogwood tree was much smaller, the daffodils and tulips first planted the previous fall were more sparse but giving that lift of the first colors of spring, the mountains guarding all below them as they had done for centuries. The sun had been shining that day, too. Jane stood in front of the window, breathing deeply of the fresh air, hand on her swollen belly, speaking soft words to the new life growing inside her, who would soon inhabit this room. This room - the one that had been Jock's when he was a boy - decorated in soft yellows and greens, for boy or girl, whichever God brought into their lives. One boy or one girl - one crib, one change table, one rocking chair, one of everything.
But this morning, the doctor had listened very carefully to the baby's heart, moving the stethoscope to different positions and then said the words, 'Well, my dear, it sounds like twins!' Jane's breath caught and she held it for several seconds as she tried to grasp exactly what she was being told, and then she smiled and cried and laughed and babbled about being two mothers and not having two names and.... As she stood at the window, waiting for Jock to come home, she grinned as she imagined Jock's reaction when she gave him the news.
She heard the front door, heard her beloved calling out, heard his footsteps climbing the stairs. As he came in the bedroom saying, 'I knew you'd be here, it's become your favorite place in the house. What did the doc have to say this morning? Everything on schedule?'
Jane turned from the window, her grin almost splitting her face, and she started to laugh. Jock had to ask three or four times what was so funny, but everytime she tried to speak she broke out in laughter and soon the tears flowed with her hilarity. Finally she got out, 'Two babies, there's two of them in here!'
And Jock turned around and left the room. Jane's laugh turned into a choke with the shock of his reaction - she didn't know what to do, what to think, whether to follow him, or wait to see if he would come back. Mere minutes and Jock was back at the door, and he handed her the small carved elephant saying, 'I'll have to make another one, now'.
The next few hours, over dinner, the expectant parents talked about the coming babies - jumping around from subject to subject, names, another crib, more diapers, names, how to tell their families, names, what about a nanny, a second baby room, names. They laughed and hugged and cried and kissed - their excitement was boundless. Then the phone rang, and Jock was called to Emergency, it was his turn for call.
They were used to this; as a doctor himself Jock had a busy practice and took his share of call nights, including calls to deliver babies. This wasn't an imminent delivery, but somebody reporting with abdominal pains. Jane cleared up the dinner dishes, and settled into the big armchair by the fireplace in the living room, with paper and pen to start writing out the tasks needed to be done now to prepare for a second baby - and to note a few more ideas for names, after all they might get two of the same sex.
She woke to the phone ringing, and stretched a bit before heading into the kitchen to answer. As she crossed the hall, she glanced at her wristwatch, realizing that it was really quite late, and wondering what had delayed Jock, he should have been home hours ago. But then, the life of a doctor, he probably had more patients for his group arrive while he was at the hospital.
'Hello?' Jane spoke into the receiver.
'Mrs. MacDougall?' the voice on the other end didn't sound familiar.
'Mrs. MacDougall, my name is Lieutenant Peterson, from the RCMP. I'm sorry to have to tell you...'
Jane went numb, and just barely understood the words spoken. Eventually she hung up the phone, but just stood at the counter, not completely understanding what she'd been told. The doorbell rang then, and Jock's partner and his wife came in. Not just partners in their medical practice, the two men had been best friends since their elementary school days, and the two women had developed a bond as well. Jim had been called with the news by the staff at Emergency - Jock had been on his way home, when he was hit by a drunk driver, and delivered back to Emergency by the ambulance service where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Moira quickly got tea going, and the two of them just sat holding Jane's hands. They didn't know about the twins, nobody did, and Jane also forgot. The next days were a blur of funeral arrangements and notifying families and other friends. Then there was all the legal issues around the practice. And Jane still had to get ready for the birth of the babies.
Mick and Mhairi arrived about two weeks before schedule, and somehow Jane was ready. Her mother came for a few weeks, then Jock's mother took over for the next few until Jane felt like she had a kind of rhythm with the two babies. The little carved elephant had been tucked away by some kind soul during those first days after Jock's death, and mysteriously had not been unearthed until today, as she was sorting through old boxes in preparation for moving into her new home. When she came across the little carving in the box in the back of the closet, she'd felt as though the wind had been knocked out of her, and she dropped into the rocker, where she sat unmoving, unseeing - just remembering.