October 16, 2008, is a date that I will never forget. It was the day my identical-twin sister, Janine, died. I regard it as a special privilege to have had someone who was always with me and so much like me. With her, I never had time to be bored. There was always Janine to talk and laugh with, play games, watch television, listen to music, go places, pursue a career in freelance journalism, etc.
During this time of bereavement, I have been lucky to have very supportive family, friends and pen-pals. It is good to know that someone whom I held so dear was loved and cared for by many. It helps to know that the pain and loss I feel is shared by others. Tributes to her have been paid in a variety of ways. A relative in New York and a pen-pal in Austria lit candles in their churches and said words of prayer for her, and a Canadian pen-pal tossed a rock into the Bay of Fundy and sent a word of prayer for me.
I received many condolence cards and decided to put them in a scrapbook in memory of someone who had touched so many lives. In the case of the pen-pals, most of them had never met her in person, but they have expressed how much her letters and friendship meant to them and that they will miss her immensely. I will treasure this scrapbook, because in her funeral program it has the eulogy given by my first cousin, Mary Boswell, along with many colorful cards expressing words of comfort. A card carried these special words: “Born in love! Lived in love! Died in love!”
Though it has been a very difficult time for me, I have leaned heavily on my religious faith to carry me through. Literature on twin loss has also been extremely helpful. Dr. Raymond Brandt’s book Twin Loss, has given me so much invaluable information. As a freelance writer, I took his advice and wrote poems and articles on my departed twin that I have found to be therapeutic. I have also been communicating with other twin-less twins as a member of the Twin Loss Yahoo Group.
Holidays were always special times for us, and we especially liked decorating our home at Easter and Christmas. The first Christmas after her death I was still too overcome by grief to put up decorations, but on the first Easter afterward, I decided to decorate the center table in our living room with her favorite Easter decorations. They included a wooden Easter bunny, Easter chicks, decorated eggs and yellow and purple feathers.
There is no doubt that Christmas is the holiday that we enjoyed most of all. We spent time listening to our many Christmas CDs and decorating our home with the wonderful assortment of decorations that we have. Every year we looked forward to our annual Christmas shopping trip to the popular tourist resort of Ocho Rios. We liked buying gifts and eagerly looked for some new Christmas decorations to add to the huge collection we already had. We never missed an opportunity to eat one of our favorite Chinese dishes at the famous Ruins restaurant or buy a patty or hamburger from a favorite fast-food outlet.
When we were much younger, another special time for us was our annual Festival and Independence celebrations. We took great interest in the various competitions that showcased Jamaica’s culture in all its glory. It was interesting to listen to the songs that were vying to become Festival Song of the year. We took pride in the fact that we hardly missed choosing the winning song, which most times had a fast moving beat and patriotic lyrics.
I recall those days when we anxiously waited to see the Festival Fashion chosen so that we could get similar dresses made up. Our favorites over the years were polka dots, stripes and calico. Since we had the same taste in fashion, we had no problem dressing alike. We took pride in the way God made us and remained determined that we would not allow anyone to decide if and when we should stop dressing alike. At no time did our dressing alike make us forget that each of us was an individual.
We made every effort to attend family gatherings. We liked being with relatives and were happy to meet new ones. We are from a big family with many relatives on both our parents’ sides.
I could not speak of special moments without mentioning our birthday. Our family always made this day memorable for us. We were taken out for lunch or a treat somewhere, or we would have a jolly good time at home. There would always be a delicious meal, birthday cake and our favorite ice-cream flavor.
Whenever there was some important academic achievement, we took time out to celebrate. It was always a time of double joy as we both excelled in the Arts during our school days and qualified as Journalists with Honors Diplomas from the London School of Journalism. For over twenty years, we wrote many articles together. There was no difficulty working together as we shared the same opinions on a wide range of issues.
In reminiscing about things shared with my twin, I must mention a bird-figurine collection that we started over ten years ago. We live on a farm in a country area on the tropical island of Jamaica where bird life abounds. Our mom started our collection with two, small, yellow birds, and over the years it has grown into a huge collection that we place in a display unit in our living room. We have figurines of birds that can be found all over the world. Today, this collection stands as a memorial to our shared love for our feathered friends.
Though my twin and I are no longer physically together, I believe she is with me in spirit. I will never forget a very special dream that I had on the night before her funeral. In that dream we were together, and I kept wondering how it was that I was so lucky to have my identical twin with me although she was dead.
When someone dies we miss them terribly, but it is always good to record and remember the special moments that we shared. I am going through a testing time without my twin, but I would never have wanted any other life than forty-seven years of twin-ship with Janine.