Two by Two
by Anne Linington
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A book entitled “Creative writing for personal growth” had been irresistible as I browsed the Library shelves. Taking time to read through I selected the exercises that appealed to me in some way, and I began to write about one of the rooms of my childhood home. I chose the rather unimaginatively named “Front room”. This was in contrast to the room to the rear, the kitchen warmed by the Rayburn, in front of which we bathed in the steel bath.
The “front room” was kept clean and tidy, and was for watching the Black and White Minstrel Show on Saturday evenings; for doing homework at the large oak table; for Mum to play her favourite sheet music on the upright piano, and particularly Carols such as “Little Donkey” at Christmas time. Later on a succession of boyfriends would be welcomed by the family in our front room.
As I revisited this room in my memory, I became aware that Mum liked to arrange things in pairs, as indeed I still do; A pair of photographs on top of the piano; a pair of china figurines wearing blue and pink crinoline skirts on the sideboard; and matching green and pink metallic fish either side of the mantelpiece- a gift from one of her three children.
In my mind I was drawn to something under the dining table, a somewhat battered Noah's ark painted in red and green. Missing part of its original hinged roof, due to years of play, it housed a selection of now equally worn wooden animals. The paint had faded, and some parts were missing altogether. Few of them now had their original pair completely intact, but they still provided hours of enjoyment. I once had the desire to see the set repaired, with a complete roof, repaired bodies and fresh paint, but this has remained wishful thinking.
As I centred on this room and all its memories, I was drawn to the electric fire, with its flame effect.Inside plastic moulded coal, were two bulbs. These generated sufficient heat to spin thin metal fans to create the living coal effect so popular in 1950's Britain. The problem was that more often than not, only one of theses bulbs worked. I would watch as only half the amount of light and moving coal effect were generated, whilst the other half remained in darkness, without warmth or movement.
This sight often generated in me a deep sadness, and as I grew to understand what was needed to remedy the situation, I would long for the defective bulb to be replaced. On occasion when it was, I loved the effect of the light and movement of the two in combination. This deep fascination with the fire and its bulbs, seemed to to connect with my own story and the loss of my twin through a miscarriage.
In this room where Mum arranged everything in pairs, where we played with pairs of animals housed in the wooden Noah's Ark, and the fire with the lifeless bulb, all connected with the sense of loneliness and grief at living life without my twin. For a while I belonged to the “Lone Twin Network” a UK based support group for those who have lost twins at any age and in any circumstance. Here I was able to share how I felt living as a sole twin, without having known what he or she, with whom I had shared a womb was like.
Grief and loneliness, and a perpetual search for that other, in the hope of finding myself too, have been some of the resulting difficulties to be resolved. I have alternately felt angry with my twin for leaving, and almost jealous that he or she had it so easy going straight to Heaven!. I do believe in some deep sense God meant me to survive against the odds, and has a ministry for me to do. I am also convinced that my twin has been ministering in ways that I will not understand until we meet in heaven.
Returning to our “Front room”, to peer at the electric fire, one bulb radiating warmth with its living flame, and the other cold, dark and lifeless, helped me to address this loss, and be reconciled to these events.
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As we journey through life we face loss in so many different ways. It is always best to allow the grieving process to be complete in order for us to heal. I thought your piece was well written and I liked the way you connected the inanimate objects with your personal situation. Great piece. God bless!
I am not a twin and cannot imagine the kind of loss you feel but August the 5th i lost my brother to cancer. We were close in age and close to one another, i can on some level identify. Now to grieve and learn to go on without them untill we see them again and that is what keeps me ok with his death because i know he is with our Lord !