I was born an identical twin.
Hurried along by my mother’s toxemia, Marty and I made our way into the world one month early and several pounds shy of safe birth weights. A little over two and three pounds apiece and with under-developed lungs, neither of us were expected to survive. In 1962 doctors had limited means of saving premature and massively underweight infants.
Despite these dire predictions, my parents named us after our grandmothers—Kathryn May (a.k.a. Kimmy) and Martha Gilbert—and when we arrived, Daddy drove the streets of Pittsburgh screaming out of car windows, “My wife had twins. My wife had twins.”
He ignored the negative news. That’s what Daddy always did.
Two days later Marty died—alone—in an incubator—separate from me—struggling to breathe in my own glass box.
Then there was no language for the aloneness I experienced—aloneness so deep it rooted in the very marrow of me.
Where was the hand I’d held? The arm I’d snuggled beneath?
Where was “she”?
Who was “me”?
Ironically, however, I will always see myself as plural, for I’m forever “we.”
I am forever you.
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