Monday, April 12, 2010

A Different Life


I've been thinking a lot about Vivian and Annemarie lately. Not more than usual...but not less than usual either. Okay, that made no sense!

Today is the 21 month anniversary of their stillbirth, and in some ways that seems like a very long time ago, and in some ways it seems like a moment ago.

I find I am much less angry now than I used to be. But I am still sad, and I still wish that they were here, and I still think about them every single day.

Last week I was at Target and I caught sight of this woman in the store with her big orange double BOB stroller (the same stroller I have). When I see someone with a double stroller, I always look to see if it's twins, and there they were, identical girls about 21 months old. The woman looked almost exactly like I do. Same hair, same style of clothes, same height. She could be my body double, or vice versa.

I looked at her and thought about how different my life would have been if Vivian and Annemarie were still alive.

I also thought about how 20 months ago, I might have collapsed on the floor of Target and started sobbing hysterically, the way I did in the elevator at The Gap on Michigan Avenue in Chicago just weeks after they died.

I thought about how 15 months ago, I would have been so angry. At her, at the situation, at God.

But on this day last week, I just observed her. I didn't cry about it, or feel sorry for myself. I was happy for her. Sad for me. Happy for her.

In some ways, I know I'm healing. I mean, I have's the only choice I've got. I have too much to live for to not move forward.


When we moved into our new house a month ago, I met my next-door neighbor and she said, "You're going to love this block. There are lots of kids. I have twins, so and so has twins, oh, and the people three doors down have twins...I guess this block is the block of twins."

I just kind of wagged my head. Really? Did I have to move all the way across Los Angeles just to live next door to twins?

Last week, I was taking Paprika and Ginger for a walk around the block, and I met one of the other neighbors with twins. She introduced herself and told me that she had 20 month old twins...exactly the same age Vivian and Annemarie would be.

It caught me off-guard because I thought her twins were older, and the fact that they're the same just changes things. Now whenever I'm in my backyard and I hear those kids playing, I think about Vivian and Annemarie and wish they were outside playing, too.

I keep running into this mom and she constantly reminds me that she has twins...and I think that's because she wants me to give the standard twin reaction- which is "OMG, you have twins! How amazing/crazy/cool/stressful!!! Do twins run in your family?!"

But I haven't reacted that way, and I haven't told her our story either. Don't get me wrong, I am nice to her. I just don't dwell on the fact that she has twins and rave over how awesome and special it must be.

The truth is, I'm not sure what to share with people anymore. I don't walk up to people and tell them that I graduated from a top law school and that I was on law review. Or that I've written two books. I don't tell them that Mr. Mustard has won two Emmy's and about all his other amazing accomplishments in the world of television and film (even though I am immensely proud of him).

Point being, I don't go into the intricacies of many parts of our life. But it feels weird not to talk about our twins, especially to another mom and to someone who keeps talking about her twins. But at the same time, when I do bring them up, a lot of times people don't know what to say and I end up feeling worse after the conversation.

Sometimes I imagine a different life where I met Devon at the Mom's of Multiples club instead of at Grief Group. I imagine strolling down to this woman's house with my "wouldn't you know it, our twins are exactly the same age" story and having coffee with her.

But, that's not my life.

I feel sometimes who I was prior to July 12th died, and a new me emerged at the same time.

Paprika and I were looking through old photos tonight...the ones from when she was Ginger's age, and I don't really recognize myself. Sure, I look the same but I'm not the same.

The new me is still happy. I am still excited by what life has to offer in the future. But the girl in those old pictures has no idea what's coming next. I like that girl...but she's not me anymore.

Anyway...just feeling reflective tonight. Grief has changed me in a lot of ways. Made me more patient, for sure. Less perfectionistic. Less concerned with what other people think of me. More expressive. More forgiving.

But even with these gifts, I still miss Vivian and Annemarie and often wonder what might have been. I'm not going to slide down the looking glass chasing a dream that won't ever happen, but I still miss them and honor them and wish they were here playing in the backyard with their sisters.




That was a great post. You have done amazing, I think. All of your girls are precious! Maybe someday when you know these moms of twins better, you can explain about your twins. I can't imagine how hard this is for you.

FourJedis said...

Erika, I am glad that you are noticeably feeling less angry, but I'm sure you will think about them every day and still feel sadness. You have been through so many things in your life, most of them things that no one will experience, and while you see yourself as a different person, it's our experiences which make us who we are. Not that anyone should have to go through what you did at all. Just know that even if you see yourself as a different person, people around you love and care for you just the same, if not more, and completely admire the strength you have.

I hope that the sadness lessens and it gets easier to see twins. I'm so sorry it's getting thrown in your face even more lately, and that you don't know who you can tell what to. You are such an amazing, wonderful person and deserve nothing but happiness. If you ever have a moment where you need to vent or just take a deep breath and have a moment to remember or talk about your girls, please pick up the phone and call me. I will listen any time!

Sheila said...

I think most definitely your girls,
all four of them are with you at the new house. I think they are there in all the joy and laughter you are hearing in the neighborhood of twins. Mom, don't forget us but know this is what we too are doing together in heaven.
They are alive,together just not with you. I did not lose twins.
But every child lost from our touch is it's own torment.
You can and will learn to see joy in other children of the same age.
It takes it's own time and course for everyone but have comfort in the knowledge that it will come to you. Your understanding of how you are already on the journey I hope will give you tears of happiness and hope. I am shedding my own for you and my sweet girl who would be 33 years old now. Now you know my own secret joy when I read your blog. Life is sweet in what ever form for however long we have it.
You have been blessed.

Devon said...

thank you for sharing your heart...

this is such a tough road, and you know i haven't figured it out yet.

just know i am thinking about v&a today (and yesterday too) and wondering who'd they'd know, if we met at a MoMs club!

thankful for you regardless....((hugs))

ferfischer said...

Lovely post. A different life indeed. Our stories are different, but our story often stops people in their tracks and they don't know what to say either. I try not to feel worse about it for talking about my girls and what happened, but I do. Then I wonder why I should feel guilty about my severely disabled kid, and is such a big part of our life? Because endings that are less than perfect are not really things people want to hear about.

Anonymous said...

you have done so much and also been through so much. I am proud of you!

Erin said...

thinking about you! I don't really have any advice on how or when you would tell someone. I hope you can find a good time and I am glad that you are slowly healing and able to handle seeing other moms with twins.

Anonymous said...

I just want you to know that you are amazing. When I need some comforting I come to your blog and One or two others ones.

You put a lot of things in perspective for me. Like how we can't change the past and we have so much to live for in the "right now". I'm still VERY angry and sad, but when I come to your blog I get a sense of relief like I'm not going through this alone. Thank you for that :)

Lost in Space said...

I'm sorry, Erika. I wish any part of this were easier. You aren't catching any breaks, but your perspective continues to amaze me. Remembering your girls with you...

Louisa said...

I really associated with this post, beautifully written....Harry would be two on the 24th of April and what you said about being sad that Vivien and Annemarie not being here but at the same time we have to keep on going, I really loved this sentence..." find I am much less angry now than I used to be. But I am still sad, and I still wish that they were here, and I still think about them every single day" in reference to that quote I thought you might like this quote .
"If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden. ~Claudia Ghandi