In the winter of 1995, I nearly lost my cool to an ultrasound tech who was merely the messenger of the news that I was pregnant with twins. I had two toddlers already, and couldn’t imagine life with double the trouble. They came on September 6th of that year. Their father and I named them Marcus Ellington and Nathan Armando. I could not have predicted the amount of joy and surprises these two boys would bring to our family.
Diagnosed with autism at the age of three, Marcus has taught all of us what it is to be in touch with our humanity to its fullest. He has been the epitome of selfishness and selflessness, at once. In the early years, his demands (so often unclear to us) were at times, so intense and deliberate that our family was forced to tend to his every whim until he was somehow pacified. While his physical outbursts were so intense and confusing, once they were over, I knew and appreciated peace in a way I never could have before Marcus. And now, because of his struggles, when he smiles or laughs or cuddles with us, it feels like the first time it ever happened, and we feel so lucky to share those moments with him. Marcus has taught us that life isn’t always about winning and control, but about moving and adapting with its sometimes calm, sometimes wild current. To say that I am glad Marcus is autistic would be very far from the truth. I desperately wish Marcus were not. What I will say is that he is our family’s treasure, and we are better individuals and a better family because of him.
Old soul is the name I dubbed my second born twin. As a baby, Nathan’s stare was precocious. He was the observer. He seemed curious about people’s actions and the sounds of life that surrounded him. As much as I was intensely worried about Marcus’ well-being, I was as confident Nathan was a healthy, wise boy who would one day do great things. He hasn’t disappointed me. As a youngster, he was a soccer star until he fell in love with running in his freshman year of high school. He has been a top runner on his school’s cross-country and track team ever since. He came home one day during his freshman year and said he wanted to be class president. My husband and I thought — great. We created huge Obama style posters which he taped to various walls of his school. He wooed his class with his charm and won that title. One day after school last year, he told me he wanted to travel abroad to Germany in a foreign exchange program with a group of students from his school. We made it happen, and he has now been to Europe and has satisfied a bit of the curiosity for others that has been an innate part of who he is. His wisdom carries over into his spiritual life. He is quick to proclaim his love for God. In a world where young men are pulled and challenged in many different directions, this mother couldn’t be more ecstatic that her son chooses to lead a righteous path, as opposed to one that may be more popular or enticing.Yes, Nathan is bound for great things.
This is my tribute to my twins whom I am so very proud of and love dearly. Thanks for letting me share a piece of them with you.