Red Twin and I are 35 this week. This will probably be the last birthday for which Red Twin is with us. I’ll have the rest on my own. I’ve been thinking about growing old, especially about being 70, because I guess that will nominally be the birthday that marks living more time without her than with her.
Maybe God will give Red Twin another year, to 36 or beyond. After all, she was not expected to make 35.
Maybe the same cancer will take me and I won’t reach the point where I’ve lived longer without her than not.
Maybe the effects of climate change will mean we all have shorter life expectancies.
Anything could happen. But this milestone looms for me, as the day when I will have lived more of life without her than with.
We were born together, learned to walk and talk together. Our teeth fell out at the same time (and in mirror image!) We went through puberty together, our bodies changing in just the same way at the same time, though we could compare the minutest of variance.
Of course there have been things that have happened to our bodies that were different. She broke her right arm, I gave birth twice. While I was browning in the Tanzanian sun, her skin was paling, because she was always indoors or veiled. And of course there is the cancer that has meant she’s had several surgeries, with whole internal organs removed.
But facing what will likely be our last birthday with both of us around, I’m looking ahead to experiencing natural physical changes on my own. Like the old ANZAC adage, she won’t grow old as I who am left will grow old. And there is a great deal to grieve there.
For example, I’m wondering what will happen when I go into a Kmart dressing room.
It’s funny being an identical twin, because you’re quite used to seeing your twin from all angles, but not yourself. But when I go into a Kmart dressing room, occasionally I catch a glimpse of a reflection of a reflection of myself from an angle I don’t normally see, and it gives me a start because I think Red Twin is there too.
Will I always see her there? At what point will I have aged to the point where this doesn’t happen any more? Will I even notice it as it slips away?
Or will I be a 70 year old lady, still giving myself a scare, and then once again feeling the crushing weight of being a twinless twin, even though I’ll have lived more of life without her than with?
I guess we all find it hard to think of our future selves. But my future self always had her there.
We imagined ourselves with arms entwined as we sat side by side on a couch, cackling over some thing that was only funny to us. (More) grey hair and (more) wrinkles and another 35 years of life experiences wouldn’t disrupt the Mutual Admiration Society of two.
And now I am trying to think of what I will be like old, instead of what we would be like.
Categories: Written by Tamie
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.