My Aunt Vonnie died last week.
It came quickly. As the cliché goes, she is at rest and in a better place. That thought is supposed to make family and loved ones feel better, but I would like to put it out there that it does not. Plain and simple, I am going to miss her for a long, long time.
I write this for The Twin Source because Vonnie is survived by her twin sister, Annie.
As a mother of twins, I have had an incessant ache in my heart ever since our family found out Vonnie’s cancer was terminal. Of course, I would have felt sad, worried, and concerned if I had received such wretched news about any of my family members. But it’s been especially hard thinking of the twin bond that Vonnie and Annie have shared—and that I have witnessed at family events since I was born.
I see that same bond every day as I care for my happy, healthy, toddling twins. Just yesterday, they grabbed one another by the hand (after much discussion that only they could understand) and together walked away from me into another room to play, just the two of them. I sat quietly, stunned and amazed. In that instance, they did not need me at all, just each other.
Annie, of course, was by Vonnie's side basically since the diagnosis, leaving her life hundreds of miles away for as long as she had to. Annie went to be Vonnie's rock. This was a role reversal because Vonnie was always viewed as the stoic, tough, and brutally honest twin.
Over the last few weeks, Vonnie helped plan her own funeral. She wanted it just so. One evening, she and Annie were talking about the details. Annie asked Vonnie what she wanted said about her at the service.
After a bit of thought, Vonnie replied to her sister with this one sentence: “I came into the world a twin, and I will leave this world a twin.”
How Annie had the strength to repeat those words of her sister’s during the eulogy without total collapse I will never know.
On the evening Vonnie died, my dad (her oldest brother) and Annie were with her. That morning, she had taken a turn for the worse. When my dad, who was staying nearby, was about to leave for the evening, Vonnie asked to speak with him. She told him she loved him, and poignantly noted that their family did not say that enough. He agreed, and he told her he loved her very much. After my father drove off, it was just Annie and Vonnie all alone as night fell. She left the world in the company of her sister, just the two of them.
There is truly no bond stronger than that of twins. The bond is almost magical to a degree, especially to a parent witnessing it in their children.
Parenting twins sets us apart because of the obvious—we are dealing with two children at once. But what is often forgotten in the day-to-day chaos of parenting is the miracle of it all. It is a privilege and a gift to parent twins—watching them grow together, love one another, and share all they have and every moment together.
We are so, so fortunate to be able to witness the twin bond firsthand. And it is our job as parents to celebrate our twins’ unique siblinghood and to help them appreciate their relationship and be there for one another into their adult lives.
As I often say to my little toddlers when I hear them begin to get fussy with each other (echoing my mother’s parenting a bit, I must admit), “Be kind to one another. He/She is the only twin you’ve got.”
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