My Beautiful Triplets
I had always been aware of a presence ever since I was really young. It's been there really my entire life. I never gave it much thought because it was completely natural and not frightening at all. I would have long conversations with this presence all the time. Sometimes I would look into the mirror and talk, other times it would be in the privacy of my room, or the back yard, and as I got older, in the car as I drove. There were times that I actually "got caught" conversing aloud with seemingly nobody there, and I would invariably get embarrassed and make some weird apology to whoever had been listening, aghast and no doubt thinking that I was insane.
The presence was female. How did I know that? It was always an unspoken but known aspect. I never told anyone about it, not my parents or my friends. When I was in second grade, I happened to be reading a book about twin sisters who were identical and played a joke on their classmates. The oddest feeling washed over me as I read this story; a mixture of envy, jealousy and sadness. Deep sadness.
Over the next couple of years, I would see twins on television. In the early 1960's there was a children's show called "Wonderama" and each week they had an audience filled with children and always some sort of theme. One day the theme was "Twins" and there were only twin pairs in the audience. I was so envious I couldn't stand it. I felt cheated and very unhappy. It took a long time for that feeling to subside, but it never went away entirely. I never knew actual twins in elementary school.This made them all the more exotic.
My best friend growing up was a little boy, Georgie, who lived the next street over from me. We were exactly 2 months apart. We did everything together, played at each other's houses, attended each other's birthdays, walked to school together. My father took pictures of Georgie and I on our first day of kindergarten as we rode on the school bus for the first time. Around age 9 we started drifting apart somewhat; that's the age when boys hang out more with boys and girls hang with other girls. Two weeks after my 12th birthday, my family moved to another town far away and I would be attending a different school. Georgie came over to say goodbye. I never thought for one second that I would never see him again; 12 year olds don't think like that.
I entered seventh grade and immediately everything became an intense struggle. I had trouble making friends. My parents fought constantly. My grades dropped for the first time ever. Nobody understood me. I felt alone and adrift in a sea of loneliness. I had started feeling empty inside, like I didn't really exist. In the fall I went to the local library with another girl, and for some reason I found some books on twins. Mainly they were how-to books advising parents of twins on how to care for them. I loved these books and felt a strange affinity for them, like it touched on some silent, hidden aspect of myself.
A few months later I was sitting in science class, and I felt compelled to raise my hand and announce to everyone that I had been a twin but my sister died before birth and went away. There was a stunned silence but then some of the kids asked the teacher if that could really happen and she replied that if there was a problem with the embryo, it could. But the other kids teased me mercilessly and made me feel like an even bigger freak than I already was. I couldn't wait for school to be over and summer to start. But then a new, much worse problem emerged: My eating disorder. I developed full blown anorexia by mid-July but back then, nobody knew what it was. All I know is I felt like I was regaining some sort of control over my life that I had lost so long ago. I loved not eating, feeling deprived and the sensation of being overly thin, although I never felt thin enough. Years before, I had felt like I didn't deserve food, that I was a bad child, selfish and spoiled and I had caused terrible problems for other people by my eating so much. Nobody actually said that to me, but it was a feeling very deep in my soul, much like the knowledge that I had had a twin sister. I never dreamed that the two issues were related.
In September my mother finally took me to the pediatrician, but clearly he didn't get it. He told my mother I was acting out, and that if I didn't start eating he would put me in the hospital, like a big threat. I finally did start eating eventually and put on some weight. Things got a little better, I met my best friend in 8th grade (a girl) and over the next 20 years she was the best thing that happened to me. I even told her about having a twin sister and she never made me feel bad. Somehow, over the next several decades I managed to push down my feelings of having a twin sister who died. Her presence was always there, but I learned not to tell anyone.
In 1975 I was hospitalized in a mental hospital at the age of 20 for having a complete break with reality. I had been in college and was hit with a horrible unrelenting depression and hearing voices that said hateful things. I had 20 shock treatments that summer. I was well enough to go home, but three months later I ended up at the hospital again. That place, and many others like it, would be my "home" over the next 15 years, off and on.
Then, a miracle happened: In early 1987, after having been on every medication in the book, I finally felt normal and good enough to go off meds. What a relief that was, not being chained to a regimen of pills every day. I was working a full-time job at a beauty salon, I had graduated from beauty school, and things were finally looking up.
July 25, 1987, was a beautiful Saturday. I went outside and looked up at the sky and suddenly I was gripped with the horrible sensation that I was dying and would not live to see the following Saturday. What the hell was going on? I was a healthy 32-year old woman. The weirdest part was, I didn't FEEL sick! This feeling persisted and Monday morning I went to the doctor. He checked me over and said there was absolutely nothing wrong physically, it must all be anxiety. He prescribed sleeping pills and told me to come back in a couple days if I didn't feel better. That afternoon, with the feeling getting worse by the hour, I called a local crisis center and they gave me a number for a counselor. She was a lovely woman who met with me personally and we talked for several hours. She was very reassuring and said she believed the issue was some unresolved emotional problem, and I wasn't dying.
The next day, Tuesday, July 28, I tried to keep busy but the feeling was still there. Around six that evening, I went to the supermarket and was standing in line when suddenly, the feeling of dying went away, as if it was literally on my shoulders and lifted off. I wasn't dying! I was going to live! The unbelievable relief washed over me like a cool, beautiful wave.
Two days later, July 30, my dad went down the shore for some reason (the area where I had lived as a child) and picked up the local newspaper. He was reading the obituaries when he suddenly said to me, "there's a George who died, same age as you. Didn't you have a friend George in our old town?" I jumped up and grabbed the paper. There was my friend Georgie's obituary. He had died on Tuesday. I asked my mother if she would attend Georgie's wake with me the next day.
Friday, my mother and I drove to the funeral home. Georgie's family was very surprised to see us. They asked how did we know, because we didn't keep up contact with anyone so nobody called us.
Saturday August 1st I felt overwhelmed with sadness and a feeling of hopelessness. I honestly didn't attribute it to Georgie, not at first. That night I wrote a ten-page suicide letter and wrote, among other things, that "life wasn't worth living anymore; it was too much of a struggle".
As unbelievable as it sounds, I didn't put everything together for awhile: I felt like I was dying while Georgie was dying (he had been sick for several months so I tuned in to that for his last 4 days). He died on Tuesday and that was when the feeling of dying went away.
The fact that my dad went down the shore and happened to get the paper from there (something he rarely, if ever, did). If he hadn't done that, I may never have known that Georgie passed, and I certainly wouldn't have attended his wake.
Several years later, around 1990, I started "tuning in" to other people's passings, some were close friends and others were work acquaintances, people I hadn't seen in 15 years or so, and didn't know they were ill. A friend of mine who studied spirituality explained to me that people are like antennas; we are capable on picking up on other people's energy as they depart this world (if we are open to picking up on it). I told her about Georgie, and she said that definitely his soul was trying to make contact with me in his final days. Although I have the ability to pick up on things happening to other people, I wondered why I had such an intense experience with Georgie's passing.
I started remembering things, things I had stuffed deep down in my psyche. When I first got the realization of my twin sister being with me, at the age of 12, I had been aware of a smaller, male presence in the background. I had never paid alot of attention to it in the very beginning, but I came to believe that he was a male fraternal triplet to us, and my sister and I were MZ. I have always known we were identical. To me, the male left our constellation early on. He never grew very big. My sister and I were together for maybe three months, but to me it will always be timeless. I know we were conceived in November.
My friend Georgie was born in October the following year. If he left us in December or January, shortly after our conception, he would have time to be conceived for an October birth. That may have been why I never really missed my male triplet as much as my identical twin sister; because Georgie and I were together during our childhood. The love we had for each other stood the test of time and he came to say goodbye again to me, as he had when we were 12 and thought we would live forever. I will always cherish that experience of my beloved Georgie sharing his passing with me. He will never really be gone, and I know we'll have a wonderful reunion when the three of us meet up again.