By: Brittany Renee
I knew both of you when you were inside a belly, sheltered and protected. Just two boys who had names picked out for you. It is a joke that your combo nickname is ‘Huggie’ because it takes parts of each first name and puts them together. We’ve watched you grow into your individual names, make them your own, while also making ‘Huggie’ a reality where two friends eat popsicles together on hot summer nights, chase imaginary friends in the grass, and point out the moon in the sky. The rest of the world gets reduced to crickets and the sound of your laughs. I love the ‘Huggie’ reality, and I wish more people knew its sights and sounds.
But, not enough people do. When I held each of you the first times, you were so new, and I whispered how the world could be anything you wanted it to be. I told you both, “Welcome.”
As you’ve gotten older, I’ve repeatedly asked myself if I welcomed you to the right kind of world.
One of you is my son. The other of you is my son’s best friend. When it comes to your worth as human beings, it shouldn’t matter which one of you holds which title.
I’ve watched your feet grow and talked to you both about all the places they may take you. But for one of you, your feet may take you more places easier, quicker, and for the other, it may be harder, slower, even though your feet carry the same strong bodies, the same smart minds. Your paths may be very different, but you must walk together.
I’ve watched your hair change from baby fuzz to the perfect contrast – bright platinum blonde on one head and dark spiral curls on the other. For both of you, your hair is part of who you are and people often comment on it. Some people may judge one of you based on how you wear your hair. But I’ll make sure you know it is beautiful.
When you were both born, your eyes were still deciding what color they wanted to be – each of you starting out with deep, dark tones. Over time, I’ve seen what color your eyes were meant to be. One with cool blue eyes, and the other with warm brown. You will both see the world differently, not only through your colors but also your experiences. You will see things you wish you didn’t, but you will also see so many truly lovely things, like how love exists in all colors. I always hope your light and dark eyes grasp the beauty in themselves, easily see those who do not, and relentlessly demand more for yourselves.
I’ve heard you both develop your voices from infant cries to toddler tantrums. One of you has a raspy voice, the other one is more chipmunk-like. I hope every single time you see or hear of an injustice those two voices become one, screaming into every corner of the world, hand in hand, shouting until your throats are raw, but your hearts are content.
Right now, as the world stands, one of you will be treated better than the other because your skin is lighter. That is unacceptable. Always and forever until the end of time. You will actively fight against this because you will know better. You will be taught that love is louder and bigger and better than hate. You will be taught that your actions have a ripple effect, and you will be conscious of who and what that ripple could eventually drown. You will be shown that ignorant silence has incalculable consequences, and conversely, the right words can make all the difference.
You will do better than people past. You will be better because of that boy beside you. You will be better because of ‘Huggie.’
To the families that participated, thank you for opening your hearts and allowing us to be safe in them.
To Desert Rose Designs for donating the custom t-shirts, the boys felt special. And, we can’t say thank you enough for that.
To the photographer who drove close to an hour and a half to capture these images at no cost, I wish more people were like you. Your heart holds the purest love.