Tennis Shoes

While I lived in Texas I made a trip home to Ohio to see family. My daughter was only 6 months old and had already had two surgeries. She was born with spina bifida and her first surgery was to close the opening in her back. The second surgery was to place a shunt in her brain to drain excessive cerebral spinal fluid to protect the brain cells from hydrocephalus. We had driven home for Christmas to spend time with family.

On our last day there, my mother and sisters decided to go shopping. My husband kept our daughter and son and I saw this as a great break from the day to day responsibilities of a young mother and relished the opportunity to be with my sisters and mother. We talked and laughed and had a relaxing time. It was so refreshing.

When we got back to the house my husband said Kristen had been really fussy. This was not like her. She was a very good, and generally contented baby. When I held her, I knew the problem. I could see the ‘bubble’ of the shunt had collapsed. We needed to take her to emergent care. Off we went to the local children’s hospital to find a neurosurgeon. We discovered she would need emergency surgery to replace the shunt. Family got word and they all met us and stayed with us while she underwent the surgery.

It is so difficult to turn over your small, helpless, baby to people you do not know. To let them take her into the cold sterile room. They don’t let you in there-you have to trust them.

Surgery went well. Everyone but Kristen and I went home. I slept beside her in a little cot. Early in the morning, when my eyes were just opening, I could see under Kristen’s crib to the other side of the room. There were little white tennis shoes silently rising and falling with the rhythm of the wooden rocking chair. I rubbed my eyes, and sure enough someone was quietly sitting with us-My Twin.

Somehow that memory is logged in my brain. It is one of the portraits in the art gallery of my mind. It comes to me often. I think it is because it made me feel watched over. Here she was, I am not sure when she got there, but she patiently waited and watched over us. Ready at any moment to be of support and assistance. I was rather new to this world of special needs. It was the third of 13 surgeries. No matter what surgery waiting room I was in, I never felt alone.

When I feel a little unsure, or a little overwhelmed, I can see those shoes. I know I am not alone.

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My other half

Being a twin is hard for another person, single born, to really embrace.  You feel complete when you are with your twin, and you are somehow not whole when you are apart.  Without my twin, I couldn’t get through my storms in life because when we are together, I am stronger.  I can face it.  What is around the corner isn’t so scary….

I have identical triplet grandboys and I feel a certain connection with them.  I know how they are connected and will be connected throughout their lives.  Sure, they argue and fight – they are 3 years old now – but when they stand – they stand touching each other.  When they “sit around” they flop over one another’s limbs and torsos – without feeling weird about it.  It’s just what it is.  There’s no physical boundary between them because they touched the entire time they were developing.  They know no different reality.  I know that no matter what is in front of them – or how much they “fight” over day to day things, I know that they will help each other through their lives….I believe they came into this life together just for that purpose – to help each other out with the lives that are in front of them.

That’s how I feel about my twin….we came here to earth together to help each other live the lives that we had in front of us.  We came to accomplish a purpose that we would need each other in order to complete.

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A Sad Curve in the Journey

I imagine my life to be like a journey. I will see things along the way, experience feelings along the way, and discover things along the way. The journey is meant for me.

In a way it is like runners who are provided a designated path to run on. The sides are perhaps roped off, or otherwise distinguished so that the non runners will be able to recognize where the runners will go. I don’t run mind you, but I have seen the televised races. Cheers from the crowd, liquid refreshments offered, anything the crowd can do to offer support to the runner. But she alone is running, they support.

The life journey is like that. I am the runner, well perhaps I should say the walker,  and those around me support me in a variety of ways.

On this twin journey, it feels different. I am the walker, there is the crowd, but my twin is right at my side. Somehow the officials have let her in the raceway. Sometimes we chat amiably and laugh at ourselves, sometimes we stop to explore the fascinating discovery we just found, occasionally we pause as we may experience some bewilderment on how to take the next step. But there is always that sense of an arm around me, a cloth to cool me, a tear to comfort me and a smile to encourage me.

Even with that close support, I know it is my journey. Or it is her journey. My twin is going through a sad time right now. I makes my heart sad, and I can feel her sorrow. But I cannot take the sorrow away. I can talk with her, cry with her, wrap my arms around her, and hold her up as she takes one more step along this sad curve, but I can’t change the designated path. It’s her turn. It has been my turn before.

I have been allowed to go along her path with her, but I had to agree to let it be her path-as she has mine. So while there are times we are sad, we do not feel entirely isolated. And we know that it is just a curve. The path will straighten out. We will get out of this dark forest and back into the sunshine meadow…we just have to keep stepping.

Twin Trip!

Our birthday is about to arrive! Over the last few years we have started a tradition of going on a trip together for our birthday. Our first trip was to French Lick in Indiana. It is a delightful spa with a fascinating history. It is set where the natural sulfa springs were. While there we rested, talked, laughed, dined, and enjoyed the spa. We found a book that was written by an author while he stayed there. “So Cold the River” by Michael Koryta. Very good-highly recommend it.

We would wander to a pretty spot and read that book, get up, wander to another pretty spot and read….another pretty spot and read. We read they whole book while there. We were inspired! Somehow that experience motivated us to start writing together. We booked a room at the sister spa in Indiana-West Badin for the next year. West Badin is a fabulous place. It has a huge dome and is full of flowing statues, and again with a rich history.

For two years we returned there for a writing retreat. We completed a manuscript that is under review in the self-help-memoir genre.

This year we go to Pennsylvania. The Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. We will start the brainstorming on our new book. The amazing part is our thought process. As identical twins, we think so much the same, yet we have somewhat different perspectives. Thoughts can be jotted down before they are completed…the other one instinctively knows what the first one was saying! So we accomplish a lot in a few days.

We will giggle, laugh, wine and dine, rest, and come home with a complete book outline of chapter summaries!

It is so much fun being a twin! Happy Birthday Sister!