Thursday, May 13, 2010

Growing up Twin -

I have never been alone.  From the moment of conception, as a tiny embryo, my sister was right at my side.  Growing up we did everything together, even being born.
Keri was always the leader, sometimes at great cost.  She was the first out of the womb, making the way easier for me, but the process took its toll on her.  In December of ’74, just two months old, we both caught pneumonia.  Being the first born, Keri’s immune system was weaker than mine, and her case was more serious.  We were both admitted into the hospital.  As my mom rocked Keri to sleep, she noticed her skin had become tinged blue, as well as her lips.  Keri was rushed to Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. On the way to Children’s, Keri stopped breathing 2 more times.

Being so tiny, her ankle and hear head were the only places that could take an IV.  A small patch of hair was shaved just to the right of her forehead, where the IV was inserted, the hair never grew back there.  A breathing tube was placed down her throat, and monitors were hooked up everywhere. The chaplain was called in and met with the family members, as it wasn’t thought she would make it. But Keri had an indomitable spirit and personality, even from birth, and she recovered and began to thrive.  15 days later she was able to return home.
I never knew until I was much older how close I came to losing my sister. If I even try to imagine life without her...... I can’t.  She is so much a part of me, I sometimes feel that there is no “me” without “her”.  All throughout life, all I had to do was look over, and there she was.  We shared everything, from clothes, to toys, to friends. When I speak of my childhood, even to strangers or brand new friends, I speak of the past in plural.  “our birthday is....” “when we were 5....” .... I do it without thinking.

We shared a room until we were maybe 10 or 12? But even after getting our own rooms, we still slept together at night.  When we were little I was always scared of the dark. Every night as part of our bedtime ritual, we lay on our backs holding hands, Keri would go around the room naming everything in the closet, on the walls, on the floor, under the bed..... so I would know what every shadow was. She never got angry if I asked her to “double check” in the closet, or under the bed.  She would flip the light on, look around, naming all she saw.   I think back on that now, and I am humbled and awed by the love and patience she has for me.
Keri also “took care” of me when we were young. She often spoke for both of us, and made our friends for us.  I was an extremely shy and timid child, the exact opposite of Keri. If I wanted or needed something, I could tell Keri, and she would ask for me.
I can remember being at a distant relatives house that we had never met before.  We were offered cookies, but  I didn’t take any because I was too shy and embarrassed.  Without even asking me, Keri knew I wanted some cookies, so she went to the relative and asked for some cookies for me. That was, and still is, very typical for us. Even as adults, if Keri sees I am in need of something, she just does...or gets.

When I was a single mother, times were so hard, and cash was very short. One year the reunion was held at a restaurant. I had no money, so just ordered tea. When Keri arrived shortly after I did, and placed her order, she ordered hers and mine.  She didn’t even ask if I wanted anything.  She saw I wasn’t eating, was able to read me in an instant, knew I wouldn’t willingly let her buy my meal, and took control.  Some people may have felt that was “assuming” or “pushy” and been upset.  At the time I felt ashamed that she was still having to “take care of me”, but no words could ever express how grateful and honored I am to have such an amazing sister who loves me so much.
Though not identical, Keri knows me inside and out.  She knows all my darkest secrets, and annoying habits. We can communicate with each other without ever uttering a word.  She knows my every gesture, every look, and can read me better than anyone else.  There are no secrets between us, and it would be impossible to even try to keep one from her.  She has a “sense” when there is something wrong, and 99% of the time, she knows how I feel without having to ask.

Maybe all sisters feel this way, or maybe twins do have a stronger bond.  I am so grateful that I have had such a wonderful sister to share my life with.  I am glad that I have never had to be alone, that we have been there for each other for everything.  Though many miles separate us now, she is never far from me.  There are some days I miss her so much it is like a physical pain, but I have only to look within myself to see her again.
I love you Keri.

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