“He would have been 23,” I tell my mom the morning of my birthday. As time goes by and I turn another year older, I can’t help but think about my twin brother, Joseph.
With each passing year, with each milestone I reach in my life, I think about how he never got a chance to experience any of it. Whenever I hear or see the phrase, “life is short,” I immediately reflect on the life of my twin, as he was taken out of this world almost as quickly as he was brought into it. It was Valentine’s day in 1997 when my parents were told that Twin B (Joseph) was sick.
My parents were so proud of their son for surviving long enough to be born on July 1st, 1997. It was a miracle that my twin had survived as long as he did. I am forever grateful for his strength, giving me a chance to live. With each hour that passed by, my parents were amazed by his will to live. 4 hours passed. Then 6 hours. Then 10 hours. He had proved so many doctors wrong and was defying the odds. Unfortunately, by the 11th hour, it was time to say goodbye.
One, 11-hour-period, may seem like such a short, insignificant amount of time during the span of our lives, but it was my twin brother’s whole life. My parents gave him a lifetime of love in the span of only 11 hours. As I got older, my guilt grew stronger. A thought that had always triggered a lot of anxiety, sadness and frustration in me was, why was I the surviving twin? Why was I given the opportunity to live and not him? When I was younger I battled with the constant feeling that something was “off.” I had always felt this void inside myself and it was only two years ago when I started researching the mental health effects of being a twinless twin, that I realized this “empty” feeling was probably from him.
Being a twinless twin is uncomfortable, even now as an adult. However, it’s living without my twin, my missing piece, that motivates me to get up each and every day. No matter how bad my anxiety gets or how hopeless I feel, I think about him and remember that I’m living for the both of us. He never got a chance at life, which is why the greatest way I can honor him is by making the most of mine. To me, this means doing what I can to better myself.
By taking small, productive steps, such as seeing my therapist and practicing mindfulness, I truly believe I am fulfilling my duties as the surviving twin. It’s okay for me to struggle. It’s okay for me to have setbacks. By trying my best, I am living a meaningful and purposeful life for both of us.