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Yesterday we took M to the playground for his first time on the swings. E was so excited to be able to give her brother a push; we had to keep reminding her not to swing him too high or too fast. He smiled and squealed, just as she did when she was his age and loved the swings.

It was a big thing for me, this time at the swings. I remember so well being pregnant with Anja and pushing E on the swings and saying, ‘this time next year, we’ll be pushing Baby Sister, too.’ E used to bring her dollies to the park and set them swinging in the baby swings. ‘Next year, I can push my sister,’ she’d tell people, proudly.

After Anja died, E continued to bring her dollies to the park and set them swinging. And oh, it broke my heart. To watch her pushing these little inanimate dolls, with such concentration and tenderness and even pride – it somehow made so glaring to me all that we’d lost.

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Now she pushes him, and then they swing side-by-side, and my heart fills with love. Love for all three of them; for her bright cheeks and smile, for his eyes wide with delight and the newness of flight, and for the girl who occupies the space between them, the memory of sister-hope and girls in swings. My heart swells with love for him as he takes in this new experience and aches with love for her, the girl who experienced so little, and for her, the big sister who’s seen it all with me, whose legs pump to the sky, whose eyes take in her brother’s joy, who held my hand and waited with me all that time to push a baby in a swing.

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