I hate what I’m about to write. I can actually feel my heart aching knowing what I’m about to type.
Several months ago, I was over at my parent’s house with my husband and kids. We were there for dinner.
My husband was in the kitchen helping my dad cook, and my mom and I were in my dad’s office with my kids.
My older son (then 3 -years-old) was playing with matchbox cars as my mom and I talked about her upcoming trip to go see her brother. I was sitting on the floor with my newborn in a bouncer next to me and my mom was sitting on a recliner with her back faced away from a bookshelf.
All of a sudden, my sweet, innocent son looked up and pointed behind my mom towards the bookshelf at a picture and said, “Look Mommy, it’s YOU!”
He was so enthusiastic and proud of himself and what did I want to do in this moment? I wanted to crawl in a hole and hide from the world.
My mom and I glimpsed at each other for no longer than a couple seconds. Our eyes widened and we both knew how badly we were hurting, but didn’t say anything.
My mom knows I’m a “non-sharer” (see ‘Please Do Not Disturb’). And honestly in this moment, the pain was so bad even if I was a “sharer,” I don’t think I could’ve shared.
*Note: I’ll get into this further in another post, but there are many layers to a grieving child. It’s hard enough to have your own grief, but then to see your parents in misery too?
I got up, took a big gulp of air, and used a popular toddler parenting strategy called redirection. Now my son was occupied with a green dinosaur while I quickly picked up my newborn, drank some water, and ignored the situation.
If you haven’t gotten it yet, the picture wasn’t of me. It was of my identical twin sister (and my mom next to her).
I knew this day was coming. It was only a matter of time. It’s been hanging over my head since my son first learned to talk. And now, here we are. A late Sunday afternoon and it’s happened. My son is aware of the pictures around my parent’s house that look like me, but aren’t me.
*Note: I do not have pictures of me and my twin around my house because of this reason. Sad? Yes, but it’s something that’s so painful to me and so unique that I don’t know what else to do.
How am I supposed to explain this? How am I supposed to say to a (now) 4-year-old that the person in the picture who looks identical to me, isn’t me?
Well, that’s just it, I’m not supposed to. I don’t have to. Not right now. Not today. Not tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the next day. One day, but definitely not today.
For so long I lost sleep over wondering how I am supposed to tell my children about this. How am I supposed to explain this? How do I explain what a twin is? How do I explain what identical means? How do I explain my dependence on her? How do I explain what THEY have lost? How do I explain this horrific tragedy? HOW?
To be brutally honest, I don’t know. I don’t know the answers to these questions right now. You may have your own opinions and ways you “think” you would do things if you were in my shoes, but the reality is, you’re not in my shoes and you don’t know. Just like I’m not in your shoes. This is MY journey. This is my grief. This is my horrific loss. And this is what I think is best. This is how I’M choosing to deal with it.
So where do I end this post?
Yes, my situation is extremely unique. It’s sad. It’s really sad. It breaks my heart every single day. Time and time again. And new hurdles appear everyday like discussed above.
So what can you take away from this?
Be aware. Be aware of those around you. You don’t know their battles. You don’t know their struggles. You don’t know that his/her child might’ve just pointed at a picture of what he/she thought was his/her mommy saying, “Mommy!” when it actually was his/her mommy’s deceased identical twin.
Be kind. The world needs more of it.