Chad and David felt they had lived a lifetime in three days, just like Asher. They had experienced the extremes of emotion, high and low, all at once.
Holland made modest progress in the next few days. They fed her drops of breast milk that Sissy had pumped. Chad, David and Sissy serenaded her with "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes." One night, the nurses let Chad help change her diaper.
On Thursday, however, a CT-scan convinced Dr. Carrizales that Holland, like her brother, had suffered the highest-grade hemorrhage. The doctor had resisted that conclusion all week, but now she told Chad and David it would be best to let Holland go. There would be no quality to her life.
Again, the family gathered to say goodbye. Cris Nation, one of the NICU nurses, disconnected the lifelines, tears fogging her glasses. First Chad held Holland, and David kissed her nose and cheeks and toes. They told her she was beautiful and how much she had been loved.
Then David held her, and Holland reflexively wrapped her miniature hand around Chad's index finger. As she drew her last breaths, her grip softened and relaxed. "I knew she had taken Asher's hand," Chad would say later.
They held a memorial service on Saturday morning at Sissy's church in Dallas. Sissy's obstetrician, who had come to like and admire Chad and David, paid his respects with reddened eyes. The doctors and nurses from the NICU turned out in force, and sent a wreath for each twin.
For many, their week of caring for Asher and Holland had been profoundly affecting, even life-altering. Some wished aloud that they could take children from less suitable parents on the ward and give them to Chad and David. Others talked about donating eggs for a future attempt.
Kay Douglas, the nurse, found herself so drawn to Chad and David that she began to reexamine her Southern Baptist conviction that homosexuality is sinful.
"It made me stop and consider the people individually, not just their lifestyle," she said. "There was just something about Chad and David. I don't know if it was that they wanted these babies so desperately, or their love for each other, or their love for the babies. But the whole unit felt it."
Rev. Christianne L. McKee, the curate who had baptized the babies, officiated at the service. The crowd of 40 sat in concentric circles in an airy chapel.
David kept his arm around Chad, gently stroking his shoulder. Sissy, in a black pantsuit, tucked a box of tissues under her chair. When the pianist played an opening dirge, she buried her face in Chad's shoulder and sobbed. His mouth was turned down at the corners, like a mime's.
McKee read from Psalm 139, an ode to the divinity of creation.
"For you yourself created my inmost parts;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I will thank you because I am marvelously made;
your works are wonderful, and I know it well."
Truly, McKee said, Asher and Holland had been marvelously made, as well as adored. "These children were loved," she said. "They still are loved. That love does not stop with death. Chad and David will always, always be their fathers. They will always be your children."