FOWC with Fandango — Eulogy
When my twin died my Mom and I sat on the couch and wrote out things that we wanted the minister to say. I asked a long time friend from church to speak and I had her tell of the story of leaving the church when we were supposed to go to Sunday School in order to go to the candy store next door. We would sneak back in just when the service was over. My parents didn’t even know until my friend got up in church to tell the story. People were shocked. I smiled because it was about showing that we were more than the good girls that people saw on Sunday. For her funeral there were over 125 people that attended. Our former vice principal, 2 people from the grocery store we shopped at every Thursday. People from my church, the church I grew up in, family and friends. Each person there would have a different story to tell. I got a lovely letter from a guy from high school. He wrote how Janet really helped him. I had no idea. There was a young woman from bible study who told another friend that Janet was a good friend.
When my Dad died I sat at the computer and wrote out memories. I shared that his favourite meal was ham and scalloped potatoes. His cheeky sense of humour. Most of my friends didn’t know my Dad because if they came over after school my Dad was at work. Even some of my family members learned new things about him. When my Mom died I shared about her and Dad yelling at the screen when they were watching baseball. My brother’s wife couldn’t imagine it. The minister kind of looked at me when he got to the part where I wrote “she dragged us to church”.
My Mom was the type of person who would cry when she went to a funeral. She once told me she didn’t even need to know the person that well. A Eulogy is sharing who that person was. It’s in that moment when you truly feel the loss of that person to the loved ones that they left behind.
The eulogy is how they are remembered. There are many stories here about my family. Did she really just say that. Ketchup is not a food (about my Dad putting ketchup on his food). Stories are meant to be savoured. Love is meant to be shared.
Here I thought I could get through the day without having something to complain about.
Yesterday I got some prescriptions delivered. I put my Freestyle Libre sensor on mid afternoon and all of a sudden I can feel blood oozing down my arm. Thankfully I was in the kitchen so I could quickly grab a sheet of paper towel to stop it. This is the first time it had happened so I wasn’t sure what to do. I went to initiate the new sensor and the reader’s battery was low so I had to wait until it charged in order to start the new sensor. ARRGH! Did I mention that I am terrible at remembering to charge this and my cellphone. Ipad no problem. After waiting for everything to come together I check my glucose number and it reads low. Yep the sensor is toast. I email the woman at the diabetes clinic but she is out of office this week. OF COURSE. After supper I phoned the pharmacy and the pharmacist was very helpful and told me to phone customer support and they will send me out a new one. He did say it’s very rare for someone to bleed from it. Oh and he suggested alternating arms. Yeah I learned my lesson!
While the sensor is easier than finger pricks and allows my diabetes management team to read my numbers online it’s not perfect. I’ve lost one on day 12 from catching it on a bra strap. They definitely don’t show that in the commercials!
Covid means that I won’t be having in person Dr appointments anytime soon. There are days when I think I’m managing ok and days like yesterday where I think how much easier it would be to be able to talk to someone in person.
I just finished reading an article in the Free Press about businesses that have closed and the ones that are struggling. Another Hallmark store. The lone Carlton card store closed last year so there is only one store in the city. I could shop at the dollar store but it’s rare that I can find the right card there. Susan J has closed. I went there to try on dresses for my brother’s wedding. I knew I probably wouldn’t buy one there but it was fun just to look. It was helpful to try on items that I wouldn’t necessarily pick out myself.
My Uncle and I usually go to Williams for coffee. It’s a place where people go at Christmas for a hot chocolate after walking through the park to look at the lights. I’ve been to Symposium a couple of times. I’m not sure whether they will survive since they are both shut down due to covid. And yet the coffee shop near me is doing great business. A lot of businesses have been able to adapt but there are some that don’t have that ability.
I am so glad that the small cafe near me is doing well. He has dealt with 2 things that were out of his control but he’s managed to get a good following. There is a bakery that sells their products at the Farmers Market who started delivering when they decided not to sell at markets at the beginning of covid. They are selling out weekly. I have ordered some items from a store in St. Thomas and they are doing well also. One of the words for today is frugal and I will admit I’m not. I use a grocery delivery service because that provides a job for someone. Supporting my local coffee shop not only supports the business owner but every person that he has working for him. I’m supporting the bakers that get up in the middle of the night so they can bake bread from scratch for me to eat. Shopping local means I get to know the people that grow the fruits and vegetables that I eat. The woman at the market that makes quiche. I’m willing to pay more because I know what goes into the products. There is something comforting knowing that the same vendors are still at the Market.
This morning they posted on one of the local news sites that they will be cancelling the Santa Claus parades. It’s recommended that you don’t go door to door for Halloween. Most of the people commenting can only think of all the things that are being taken away. We can’t get together with our families but we can still be thankful. Have a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey. Pumpkin tarts instead of a pie. Be creative. Decorate your house. I’ve seen comments where people have suggested having kids hunt for their candy like they would for Easter. Kids can still dress up. It’s definitely not the same but nothing is this year.
Like everyone else I am disappointed that Christmas plans will change. There won’t be a gift exchange with my friend or a couple of dinners out. The season is going to be that much harder when I don’t have anything to look forward to. Last year my grocery person saw a fight break out in the parking lot. Christmas shopping is absolute madness at the best of times without adding the stress of physical distancing and wearing a mask. I’m going to try to remember the true meaning of the season. Spread joy by sending Christmas cards. Find the perfect gift for the people on my list. Reach out to the people that might be alone. I’m going to put up my tree and think of decorating it with Janet. Be thankful for all the wonderful memories.
This morning I phoned my former neighbour to chat. During the course of conversation she asks if I want to go for coffee and I had to tell her no. It’s one of those awkward situations where our reactions to this pandemic are completely different. I had to be honest and say because I’m immune compromised I have to be very cautious. Our cases are going up because people have too many people in their bubble. This the day after a health official said we need to limit our contacts. The sad thing is I only had one in the entire 6 months. I have seen my friend twice since January and we are now back to Facetiming. But I understand because she is a teacher this is the only safe way to see each other. At the same time I would give anything to be able to sit in a coffee shop and chat. To be able to get a hug.
I also ended up cancelling a test that I was supposed to have in November. While I try to limit the amount of news I watch I do know that there are rumblings that we are heading into another lockdown. I know our Premier is trying to avoid that because nobody wants that to happen. I was so happy when some places finally started opening up. I could get a haircut! I really don’t want to have pandemic hair again.
I feel for those people that won’t be able to spend Thanksgiving with their families this year. On Monday I got a box of Halloween candy as a bonus because I spent over a certain amount. My grocery person hands it to me and laughs because she knows I’m diabetic. If we weren’t in a pandemic I could have put a bowl out in the lobby and people could help themselves. Parents are going to have to get creative this year for Halloween.
I have been following The Holderness Family on Facebook. Yesterday he did a song titled “I’m doing the best I can”. I shared it with a friend who has not had a good year. It made me laugh so much. That’s all we can hope for. One day at a time. There are days when I think it’s ok. Obviously I have lived through worse than this. Then there are days when all I can think about is how much I miss my friends. I’m holding on to all the things that I have to be thankful for.
Recently I joined a group on Facebook for twinless twins. It’s more informal which is much better than the 5000 members on the main Facebook page for members of the organization. Last night there was a zoom meetup 8pm Eastern time. I thought it would be fun so I joined in. We did a scavenger hunt. Living in an apartment I don’t have tools. I also can’t go into the backyard for acorns or leaves. When I joined I could tell everyone knew each other so that was a little awkward. I have to admit the talking over each other is something that I can’t really get used to since I was taught not to do that growing up.
About an hour after we started the woman that started the Facebook page joined the zoom meeting. When she saw me she said who I was and told part of my story. Going to a bereavement support group and sharing my story at conference I was told both times that your story is yours alone to tell. She also said that she didn’t know what it was so she googled it. That’s the part that hits me hard. How would you feel knowing that someone could look up the most awful day of your life on google? If this had been a week ago I probably wouldn’t even be able to talk about it. I remember going to conference thinking how do I balance the fact that this is the reason I am a Twinless Twin with the fact that it is such small part of my story. When I went to conference 4 years ago I came away with the feeling that I had outgrown it. That I would never be in the position of being a mentor for another twin and I didn’t want to be stuck in that place 14 years ago. I want to be able to share who Janet was not just the person that died.
I emailed a long time friend of mine this morning after I kind of worked out how to put some of my thoughts together. She wrote “I think they have it backwards that if they got to know you they would get to know Janet”. That is a true friend who can so beautifully express what I was feeling. It’s why I started this blog because I wanted her life to be about more than the day she died. Janet was stubborn, loyal, messy. She had the largest laugh and oh how I miss it. My friends that have known me a long time can see the changes in me. There was a time when I was afraid to change. I was afraid that people wouldn’t like the “new me”. For a long time I didn’t even know who I was. Growing up a twin I always had someone I could rely on. I was trusting of people. Janet and I would laugh at such stupid things and I don’t do that anymore.
For the moment I’m going to remain a member of the group but I will step back from participating for a while. I have found in my life when something doesn’t feel right for me to listen to my gut.
Right now I think we are all frustrated with the restrictions due to covid. I was recently talking to my Aunt who told me she had to wait in line for an hour and a half at a lab to have bloodwork taken. A friend had the same experience. I looked up online and the one that I go to has the best wait time. But it’s probably best to go as soon as it opens.
For me frustration is not the right word for how I feel about what is going on in my city the past few days. We have an increase of cases because of University students. It’s unfair to tar them all with the same brush but when the news media posts photos and videos of line ups around the corner to get into a bar we can see how the virus would be transmitted. The frustrating thing is that I have seen my friend ONCE since March and it’s doubtful whether I will see her again soon. I remember the hairdresser telling me 2 months ago when I got my haircut that we will have another lockdown in the fall and I didn’t believe her. More and more people are saying it.
Last night our local media interviewed a councilor who doesn’t believe we need to wear masks. All I could think was that he is giving the crazy people ammunition. Go to any Facebook page and you will see them with their bogus science on why masks don’t work. I had a friend who had to delete comments made by her friend because she wouldn’t argue with the person. I have friends that have MS, cancer and I’m diabetic. Guess what…we all wear a mask!! Why is this such a big deal??
I’m frustrated with the fact that we don’t know when we will get back to normal. For the most part I try to look at the bright side. I can order anything from Amazon. I have my groceries delivered. I can talk to my friends on Facebook, email, zoom and even the old fashioned telephone.
Fandango’s Provocative Question #87
Having been subjected to stay at home restrictions (to one degree or another) over the past six months, would you say that the quarantine has made you a better person? If so, in what ways? If not, why not?
Like many other people that have answered this question not a lot has changed for me over the past 6 months. I try to connect with friends regularly but I did that anyway. I’m better at technology. I have found that I am a lot more impatient and I get angry at the people that aren’t taking all the protocols seriously. Last night I could hear a group of students sitting outside having a party. It makes so angry at how many people in our society don’t have compassion for other people.
Since I shop at the Farmers Market I have always tried to support local businesses and during covid that has definitely been the case. When the local coffee shop near me opened I frequented it A LOT (as my debit card can attest to). I have purchased a couple of gifts for friends and a Christmas gift from a business in St. Thomas (that does delivery to London). I ordered from a local bakery that also has a booth at the market. They are doing great business but I also recognize that it’s a lot more work. When my grocery delivery people were having to stand in line during the first couple of months of covid I would tip extra because I appreciated their service. Because I don’t drive there are things that I would get them to help me with before but now everything seems that much harder so if there is anything I can have them drop off or pick up for me I have them do it.
I’ve come to appreciate my friends more. The people I can count on. I appreciate the security that I have in a home and everything that goes with that.
Honestly there is so much hate in the world right now that doing good for other people (even if it’s a little thing) does make me feel better. Giving love doesn’t make me a better person but it makes me feel good and maybe that’s the same thing.
FOWC with Fandango — Replace
This morning a friend of mine sent me a picture from the event that I held to honour the 10 year anniversary of Janet’s death. In the picture there is her, her husband, a long time friend from public school and a long time friend from church (my coffee buddy). When I decided to have what I called a celebration of life it was also a way to thank all of those people that have supported me the past 14 years. It was a way to share the good memories that we all had of Janet. I don’t remember the year that Janet and I started attending Met but I do remember G was on the welcome desk.
I sent an email last night to my coffee buddy to share a funny story and of course she writes a cheeky response. She and Janet were on a committee at church and would sit in the driveway grumbling (trying to choose a mild word for it) about the protocols that go along with hiring someone for a position in a church. There used to be a Tim Hortons at the end of our street. After her grandfather died she lived in his house for a few years (which happened to be at the end of our street). The 3rd Saturday of every month we would go there for coffee. One week she forgot so Janet went to her house and knocked on the door. She quickly threw on some relatively clean clothes and came to join us. Us being true friends we never let her live that down. She bought me journals for Christmas when I was going through 1 a year after Janet died. She bought me a diffuser one year for Christmas when I wasn’t sleeping well. She is the friend that I have laughed with, cried with and used some choice words with on occasion.
I mentioned in my last post about my friend who purchased a book for me. It arrived this afternoon. I opened the box and inside is a lovely green and white striped gift bag with a note card attached. There is a lovely note from my friend that made me cry. I don’t know how the gift arrived in 2 days but it did. I posted a picture of the gift on Facebook but the true gift is the person that gave it to me. I wish I had words to describe how special this person is. After Janet died we would write long emails back and forth. She helped me make a dream come true by being my tour guide in Vancouver. She draws a picture in a card to honour our twinship. Because Janet is still with us.
There are also the many friends that email to check on me and of course the 2 special family members that have my back. There is no “replacement” for good people in my life.
Last night a friend of mine from public school sent me the link to a podcast on BBC of twinless twins memoir.
In an article by the daily mail there is this quote “Loneliness is a feeling different from ‘being alone’. One can be alone and completely at peace but you can feel lonely even when others are around.
When my identical twin brother John died in 1987, at the age of 24, I was in a relationship, I had my mother, my siblings and my friends, but overnight I became in my mind the loneliest man on earth.”
My friend told me when she listened to the podcast she understood more what it’s like for me. I don’t know how she happened upon the podcast. Whether it was by “accident” or she searched for it but it’s comforting to know that she listened to try to understand. There is a line in the article where it says “there is no grief so raw as losing a twin”. I know that I didn’t really feel heard until I went to the Twinless Twins conference. No one else truly understood what it felt like. For 32 years I went out into the world as a pair and now I wasn’t. Even people from high school that I didn’t know knew who we were because we were twins.
When I went to visit my friend in Vancouver in 2007 we talked a lot about Janet. We both wrote notes to put in a box at one exhibit at the Museum in honour of Janet. As much as she was the most supportive person I could have at that time there were still things that I didn’t tell her. Janet bought me the Rachael Ray book $40 a day where she travels to different cities and eats 3 meals on $40 a day…as the title suggests. I walked to this cafe called death by chocolate and had a piece of cake and a cup of tea (honestly that part I can’t remember). I sat in the corner and cried because it felt so wrong doing it without Janet. We were supposed to go together.
Today it is 14 years after the day that my life changed forever. I keep wishing for a time when the month of September won’t bring with it this cloud that seems to hang over me. The inevitable heaviness that doesn’t leave until after the anniversary is over. Last night I stood in front of the cards that my friend drew that are hanging on my bedroom wall. They make me smile. I changed my cover photo on Facebook. A friend of mine from church told me that is her favourite picture…it’s mine too. It so clearly represents our bond.
This is the poem that I chose for Janet’s memorial card.
Afterglow by Helen Lowrie Marshall
I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one.
I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways,
Of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun;
Of happy memories that I leave when life is done.