Crystal Graham: A smile on a sad day

Crystal Clear column by Crystal Graham

It was the evening before the day she died – and yet I had forgotten the anniversary all together.

Until I looked at the calendar before getting some shut eye – and saw the date right in front of me.

September 23rd.

Another year – another anniversary. Not one marked by a fancy vacation or sparkling champagne.

But one marked by silk flowers at a tombstone that bears her name – that says “twin.”

Every day, I look in the mirror and see her in me. Another reminder that someone who looked just like me is gone. And I wonder about the woman she would have become.

Every day, as I enjoy my friends and colleagues, I wonder how many of them know about my past – know what shaped me into the woman I am today.

I wonder if people whisper about why I never laugh – because they don’t know my past. Very few people in my life today really know me – or know the hurt that I face every day.

My twin sister, Christina, was my best friend, and she’s gone. I’m reminded of what it was like to be a twin day in and day out. My twin neices, Hannah and Rachel, are constant reminders of what is was like to always have a playmate and a friend to confide in.

Every time I see them, I see me and Christina – though they have fiery red hair, and we always had rays that more matched the sun, with blonde locks that turned green from the chlorine in the summertime.

We were the best of friends at times; and the worst enemies at others. She was outgoing and the life of the party; I was shy and booksmart. And somewhere in between, our personalities met, and we just found middle ground.

Hannah and Rachel are much the same. Best friends playing board games and cheering together in one breath, and in the next, calling the other ugly or stupid.

I get angry at Hannah and Rachel for taking each other for granted. And yet I understand. They are only kids and don’t yet understand the bigger picture. And yet, as they grow older, I can’t help but want to shelter them from everything bad in this world. I want them to love each other and enjoy every moment together. I never want them to have to deal with the pain of not having each other – because I can speak from experience that it is excruciating and unfair and is something that no one should ever have to experience.

At dinner tonight, my fortune cookie read that I should expect great fortune, and yet I would give anything and everything including every dime that I have or fortunes that I would inherit to have Christina back; and as much as I am willing to give, I know nothing I do and no amount of money will ever return her to my life. That’s just not the way the world works.

She chose her fate; she chose to end her life with a single gunshot wound to the chest. And yet she was a child, only 15. Too young to make that decision. Too young to understand the consequences.

I’ll never forget the night that my life changed. The night that started with me being a twin – to the one that ended differently. I was left to face the world, alone, without my mirror image, without my best friend. I could no longer say I am a twin; I was a twin became the new vocabulary.

I loved my sister.

I love my sister.

And while the anniversary almost passed me by, it didn’t. Like each anniversary before this one, I’ll put flowers on her grave and weep. And weep. And weep. And weep.

And I’ll do this alone because this is the one day where I go to her – and we can talk, like old times. And with the wind circling around me, I know that she is there – to listen and comfort me.

I’ll pray for Hannah and Rachel – that they grow old together and always find time for each other. I believe these children are in my life to heal me. I find comfort knowing that while Tina and I didn’t get to fulfill our lifelong dreams with one another, Hannah and Rachel will.

And that brings a smile to my face even on this sad occasion.

But no laughing. Not because I feel sorry for myself.

But because that was something that I reserved for me and Tina.

And now that she’s gone, it just doesn’t seem fair for me to laugh without her.

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