By Hopie Welles Jernagan (Teddy's sister)
Luke and I are expecting our third child in April. It’s a boy. He’ll have two older sisters as his traveling companions in our family.
Ted knew that I was pregnant. When we told him the good news, we didn’t yet know the sex of the baby. He was hoping for another nephew—wanting to even up the score. I was hoping for another girl. We found out it was a boy about a week before Ted died, but we never got around to telling him. He knows now.
I was a little disappointed when we found out. I was already immersed in little girl stuff and was ready to add another one to the gang. I thought that raising three girls would feel like year-round summer camp. I didn’t know quite what to think when the nurse told me, “It’s a boy!”
I sat with a friend the day after we heard the good news and talked it over with her. I finally came around to the idea of raising a boy when I mentioned, “I love having a brother. Now our girls will get to have one too.” And that thought did a complete 180 on my disappointment.
Less than a week later, I lost my brother. And now, I couldn’t be more thrilled to bring a little boy into our family. What a gift our kids will be to one another. My girls don’t even know how lucky they are to get to grow up with a brother. They will, all three of them, learn so much from each other and I can’t wait to see it unfold.
As Luke and I walk through our house, imagining what it will be like to have three kids running around, I explain to him a little about what to expect. Luke grew up with only one sister who is 13 years older. He didn’t have quite the same experience as I did and can’t quite anticipate the chaos that is about to ensue.
I was the middle child with Ted less than two years older and Berkley, about three years younger. We were a three-pronged unit. We were three slamming bedrooms doors. Three sets of coats, hats, mittens and snow boots. Three bikes in the garage. Three different favorite cereals. Three seats taken up in the minivan, three lifejackets in the boat. Three performers in the “shows” we put on for obliging family and guests. We were totally different from one another—people often congratulated my parents on raising three complete individuals. But we were always three.
I tear up (and often all-out sob) when I anticipate our next family gathering. Ted’s absence will be a force. There will be only two of us siblings taking up spots at the table. Two siblings exchanging in sarcastic banter.
I’ve come to realize that Berkley and I will be now known as the two remaining Welles kids. But what we actually are is two-thirds. We will not be a whole number. ‘Two’ does not acknowledge our missing and missed brother. We will be a pie chart where 33% is left unshaded.
As sad as this realization makes me—and it hits me again and again like punches in the face, I am so very glad that I will get to raise my own three-pronged unit. I will teach them to love and appreciate each other. To be their own person but to also remember that they’re a team and to stand up for one another. Hopefully they will grow to learn that a sibling is never to be taken for granted and perhaps the greatest gift their parents ever gave them.