4th Birthday Without You

July 20, 2021

I cannot believe this is the 4th birthday without her. It feels like only yesterday we were celebrating our 39th birthday together, not knowing it would be the last. Aily passed away a little over a month before our 40th. I am not going to lie, it still feels wrong celebrating this day without her. Our birthday is now my birthday, and it will never be the same. I wish I could say it gets easier each year, but it doesn’t. It’s an annual reminder that I am alone, that every year I get older, she is not with me, we will not be growing old together. It is truly sadistic and cruel to bring two lives into this world together, and not have them leave together. Not only did she suffer through cancer, but her life was cut far too short. My life will never be the same without her, I am forced to live without my other half, and I am left behind. What the fuck kind of shit is that? It’s a soul sucking pain, immense emptiness, and profound sadness I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.  I don’t have my rock, who helps ease my anxiety, gets me through life’s ups and downs, and always knows the right thing to say to make me feel better, in any situation. Lord knows when my anxiety spirals, it FUCKING spirals. There were times when she didn’t even need to say a word to me to make me feel better. We just knew that we always had each other’s back and that was sometimes all I needed. But her words always comforted me, always gave me confidence to pick myself up, and to reassure me that everything was gonna be okay. The silence is deafening…devastatingly fucking deafening.

I thought this year’s birthday post would be a little less depressing, angry, and melancholy as last years, but I guess not. As I have said many times before, today is one of the hardest days of the year for me, and I guess I am just going to have to accept that and be okay, with not being okay. I do feel like a broken record sometimes, saying the same sad depressing shit over and over, but this is my blog, my therapy, my truth. I am still in shock sometimes, because we always thought that for whatever reason, I would die before her. I was always the sickly one, all the health issues, and I guess we just assumed that I would be the first to go, even though we always secretly wanted us to go together. Selfishly, as morbid as it sounds, it was a comfort to me to think that I would die first, that I wouldn’t ever have to know what it was like to be without one another. As we all know by now, Reality, bitch slapped me in the face, and the universe had other plans. Is it weird to talk about death on my birthday? Perhaps, but I have been forced to face my own mortality given the circumstances, and I guess I am genuinely surprised that I am the one still here. Also, because of our genetic test results, I get stomach cancer screening tests annually and bi-annually. I am in the middle of awaiting results on a few and waiting to get more tests done. I can’t help but wonder sometimes if I will face the same fate one day. Now that would be some majorly fucked up shit….just saying.

Now that I got all that shit off my chest…I do want to thank everyone who reaches out to me on my birthday. I do have an amazing family and network of friends who have always been here for me, and I am forever grateful. I do feel incredibly lucky and fortunate to have each and every one of you, even if I don’t always feel I deserve so much love and support. I have already been taken out for an early birthday dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in ABQ, thank you Jono, it was delicious and wonderful to spend time with you. I know how busy you are right now, and it means so much that you take the time out to celebrate with me. This may be a shitty hard day for me, but I am trying to find the joy and want to try celebrating it for both of us. Like I have said before, I fall apart when I am alone, and this blog helps get all the grieving and sadness out of my head and heart; hopefully making room to find new happiness with each passing year.

My dearest Aily,

Happy birthday. I miss you so much, more than you could ever know. I was the luckiest person in the whole world to share this special day with you and I hate more than anything that we are not able to celebrate it together anymore. I just want you to know how much you were loved, how much I would have given my life for yours. I am so fucking sorry I couldn’t save you. I am sorry I couldn’t stop the pain and suffering; I am sorry when we fought because I was scared and didn’t fully know everything you were feeling and got upset when you wouldn’t eat. I am sorry I wasn’t always the best sister, I tried, God knows I tried. I know I am not perfect, and I still stumble from time to time, but I am doing my hardest to be a good person and make you proud. Needless to say, I am still fucked up in the head and my heart is still broken, but I do try, I try to be happy. Jesus, how many times I have needed you in this past year alone, how many times I needed you to tell me everything is gonna be okay, cause it sure feels like my world is crumbling and falling apart at times. I try to be as strong as you were, I remember your courage and strength and it gives me hope that I can overcome all the bullshit.

I was going through my laptop and stumbled upon this picture of a quote you had in your phone. I have gone through these pictures a thousand times since you died and for some reason, I just saw this today….

I am definitely not the same person as before; I never will be. But I know somehow, I will make it through. I want more than anything to be with you again someday and that’s the only thing I have to hold on to and gives me the will to get through each year that passes by without you. Me loves you, me loves you so much!!! Vani

This is 43…I keep getting older while Aily will always be young, beautiful, and in her late 30’s.

Sorrento Beach in Australia…yes I always mess up a good picture ha ha

3rd Anniversary

June 1, 2021

I can’t believe it’s been 3 years without her. My heart is still broken, the wounds are still fresh. The 2 weeks before this day are always difficult because it’s when everything went to shit, and the downhill spiral was faster than I could have ever imagined. We brought her home on hospice on May 30th, 2018, knowing that our time together was coming to an end whether we were ready or not. Lord knows, I was not ready. I still remember the hospice nurse telling me on the 31st that I had to decide when to turn off her oxygen. Me being her power of attorney, it was my choice. That was the hardest decision of my life. How the fuck am I supposed to decide that? Who am I to play God and make that choice for her? That day still haunts me, did I choose correctly? Did I wait too long, and she suffered more due to my selfishness? Did I do it too soon? I must live with this for the rest of my life, and I hate it, I hate all of it. I hate that I am here without her. I hate that she got sick and suffered so much at the end. I hate that her life was cut short. She had so much more to give to this world. She wanted so much to live, to beat this beast. I hate that she was scared, I couldn’t imagine the fears she had knowing she was sick and dying. I hate that I couldn’t save her.  I hate that I will never feel whole again. I hate being the twin left behind.

I like to think that a majority of the time, for the most part, I am doing okay. But not today, today I am allowed to be sad, angry, and whatever the hell I want. Today I feel so lost without her….today I shut myself off from the world and I cry and grieve for her.

June 1st, 2018, 3:01 am (Seattle time) my other half, my best friend, my twin died and a huge piece of me died as well.

My Dearest Aily,

I miss you so damn much. I am sorry I am not as strong as you were. I am trying, I really am. Today will forever be the worst day of my life, the day we were permanently separated from each other. It’s such a cruel and harsh reality I live in now, one I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Sometimes I don’t know what’s worse, the heart break of losing you, or the unknown if we will ever be together again. I remember telling you before you died, that was the only thing I had to hold on to, the only thing giving me hope, that one day we would be reunited. The sad truth is, I have no idea if that will happen, I have no clue what happens after we leave this earth. That scares the fuck out of me, the thought of us never seeing each other again is the worst heart break of all. I lose all faith, sense of purpose, and something to look forward to when my time comes. I am definitely not the same since you left me, I will never be the same Siobhan; I feel I get more jaded and cynical every year. Ha ha, I know I was never the optimist to begin with, but my faith in everything (hope and humanity mostly) seems to fade a little every day. I hope I am wrong, I hope I am pleasantly surprised, and I hope more than anything, to be with you again.

Me loves you, me loves you so much,

Vani

March 17, 2021

March 17, 2021

I was going through my email the other day and found some old emails from my sister. I stumbled upon something she wrote about caregivers, something she had written about me and other caregivers and I wanted to share it with you guys:

Being a caregiver to a sick family member or loved one can be a thankless exhausting job, much like being a parent, but less rewarding.

A caregiver has to deal with someone that is often times cranky, angry, or stubborn or doesn’t want to eat or exercise. It can be stressful and frustrating!

A caregiver sometimes has to do things they didn’t sign up for or do things they would never imagine having to do. They shouldn’t be made to feel guilty when they have feelings of frustration, anger, or resentment!

A caregiver is in the trenches with the person they are taking care of. They see and experience the ugly side of illness or recovery. And when it’s someone they love and are close too, it’s makes it that much harder when they see us suffer. Emotionally it has to be exhausting!

A caregiver a lot of the time puts their life on hold to take care of someone else and forgets that they have to take care of themselves too.

A caregiver sometimes has to deal with a lot of texts, emails and phone calls for updates on the person they are caring for. More often than not, nobody ever asks how they are. Don’t just ask about or what you can do for the person they are taking care of. The caregiver is already taking care of all their needs. Sometimes ask what can you do for them or just do something nice for them. Sometimes a small gesture goes a long way.

My sister tirelessly takes care of me. She cooks, cleans, does laundry, goes to every appointment/infusion with me, remembers every question and answer from the doctor, knows all my medications and when I need to take them. She has done things that she never imagined having to do like wound changes and port flushes. She helps me wash my hair when I can’t shower, she feeds me when I’m too exhausted to eat. She was with me every day when I was in the hospital for 2 weeks. She holds my hand when I’m scared or in pain. She puts on a brave face no matter how torn up she feels inside.

I am forever grateful and there isn’t enough I can do to ever show her how much I appreciate all that she does for me. Let’s not forget to take care of the real heroes!

I have recently received some information about a few different friends/family who are in this very situation. They are fighting different health battles, but none the less, the role of the caregiver is very much the same. The physical and emotional toll this takes on both the sick loved one and the caregiver is unimaginable. I know this first hand; I know how much of a struggle it is to keep a happy face on the outside while completely falling apart on the inside. A caregiver’s both emotional and physical state is stretched thin and tested to its limits. The caregiver does not take care of themselves as much as they should, because their number one focus is their loved one. While I was taking care of my sister, I lost 15 to 20 lbs., my hair started to fall out, I started to have panic attacks and severe anxiety. The constant worry and stress was overwhelming at times and I tried my best to hide it from my sister because I didn’t want her to worry about me. I was so lucky to have family and friends to help me through it, and I did seek out a mental health professional to help with the panic attacks and anxiety. We all need help from time to time and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I needed to help myself so I could be there for my sister, so I could provide the best care I could, which is what she deserved.

I am writing this, because if you have loved ones who are fighting a battle, please reach out to both the sick one and the caregiver. Spend time with the one fighting, don’t treat them any differently, talk to them the same (my sister said she hated it when people would pity her or talk to her like she was already gone). Don’t ask what the caregiver needs (a lot of times they won’t ask for help, or feel like they deserve it). Drop off meals or groceries, offer to help clean or do laundry. Offer to spend time with the sick loved one so the caregiver can get out of the house to take a much needed and deserved break. Ask how the caregiver is doing, if there are more than one of you, have one person stay with the sick person and take the caregiver out to lunch or a park for coffee.  It’s these little things that can be most helpful and beneficial to both the sick one and caregiver who needs to recharge in order to continue to provide the best care they can. I know with Covid restrictions some of these things may not be okay, but if all involved are vaccinated, it could be easier.

Do what you can to help others, especially those who are fighting for their lives and those who are tirelessly taking care of them. Life is too short to be an asshole, give back, pay it forward. Do what you would want, if you were in their position. A little kindness goes a long way, and this world definitely needs more of that.

To those caregivers out there who are far (door dash or grocery delivery is just a click away, cleaning services, laundry services can all be arranged), those close to me, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me for help. I have been there; I know how hard it is. I am still a chef; I will whip up anything to help take off the burden of cooking some meals. I will do laundry, clean your house (yes even the bathrooms, even though we all know how much cleaning a toilet makes me queasy, I am working on that). I will be a shoulder to cry on, or just sit in silence with you, knowing that sometimes that’s all you need. I will be there to hang out with your loved one while you get out of the house, I know you need that. Being there for each other is the best gift of all, we are a team. Tag me in, I got you!! I know I have a crazy schedule with work right now, but I will sacrifice sleep to help you out in any way I can. I know you are sacrificing sleep, eating, self-care. It’s the least I can do.

Being my sister’s caregiver was the hardest thing but also the most rewarding and I wouldn’t change a thing. I was so lucky to be by her side every day through the good and bad, be her advocate, be her rock. All my love and care couldn’t save her, and I would have given my life for hers. Despite my heartbreak and being here without her, there is some comfort knowing that I did everything I possibly could and she was never alone without me.

Much love to everyone and Happy St. Patrick’s Day as well. Missing my family tonight and sharing our traditions of corned beef and cabbage, my mom’s Irish soda bread, and just being together.

MD Anderson Hotel Room after her treatment
I am beat!!!
Was always by her side, she was never alone!!

Christmas 2020

Christmas 2020

Jesus Christ what a shit show this year has been…seriously!!! I am working this holiday season which is both bittersweet. It’s still not safe to travel and see family so I figured I may as well work and keep myself busy. I don’t know if I am trying to suppress my feelings of loneliness without Ailish, or I am just trying my best to keep my head above water during this crazy ass year. I have spent a better part of this year alone, apart from my weekly (socially distant and safe) weekend visits with my friend Jono. Our dinners and outdoor/garage movie nights have kept me sane and been the highlight of every week. I am so lucky and grateful to have such an amazing friend for almost 30 years. Wow, we are old. I am grateful for his family who always spoil me with delicious food through this year as well, not just from their amazing restaurant (seriously, one of my favorite restaurants in Albuquerque), but sharing their family dinners at holidays when I have been alone or getting ready to head to work. It warms my heart and truly makes me feel like a part of their family, especially since I have been away from mine.

I am thankful for all my friends and family who are always looking out for me and doing what they can to be here for me, especially during the times when I struggle the most. I am eternally grateful for all of the kindness and love that I am given, I am very fortunate to have so many wonderful people in my life. Due to covid and my crazy work schedule I have not been able to see many people this year, but I know they are there for me, as I am for them.

This has been a year of lots of solitude and self-reflection. Be careful what you wish for, I wanted to live alone, find myself, see if I was strong enough to do it on my own…well I have certainly had more than my fair share of seclusion…probably the most I ever had in my life. I have always been around my family, always had my other half….now I am navigating solo, trying to make myself whole without her. The biggest change this year was my new career and I am so happy I was brave enough to take the plunge and do it. It was scary as hell and for the first time in years, I went to a new job feeling completely incompetent and over my head. Any time I ever went to a new chef/cooking job, I never felt intimidated or worried that I wouldn’t be able to hack it. It never took me long to go into auto pilot and kick ass in a chef job. This was a whole new ballgame for me, I felt like so dumb for the first 2 months, but according to my supervisors and co-workers, I caught on really quick and I am doing really well. I really enjoy my new job and learning as much as possible. I have also met some amazing new people at my job and they make the work day/nights even better. People ask me all the time, do I miss cooking, and yes I do. It will always be a passion for me, and while I don’t do much of it anymore (living alone, I eat more cereal and oatmeal than anything else), I do have my moments when I just need to get into my happy place and cook with my music blaring in the background.

Who knows what next year will bring, hopefully it will be significantly better than 2020. Things I have learned this past year, is that I am comfortable being alone, more comfortable in my own skin than I ever have been before. I am ready to open myself up to possibilities, new experiences, new people.  I am mentally strong, more so than I ever thought possible. I miss my Aily every damn day, but I am keeping my promise to her by living my best life for the both of us. I still plan to try and finish her bucket list (when it’s safe to travel again), and do my best to be kind to others, pay it forward and do what I can to help my friends/family as much as I can, leave this place better than how I found it, make her proud.

My dearest Aily,

Wherever you are, Merry Christmas. I miss you so much and life is not the same without you. I hope I am making you proud.. My world is still so lonely and scary without you, and I miss your voice, your laughs, your yelling at other drivers on the road. I miss our crime tv binges, watching basketball games, and cooking you whatever you want to eat. I miss us leaving funny selfies on each other’s phones to make each other laugh. I miss everything about you. My heart is still broken, it will be for the rest of my life, you are my other half and I know one day we will be reunited again. It’s still hard for me to allow myself to be happy without feelings of guilt, cause I feel like my ability to be truly happy died with you. I am surviving better than I thought I would, better than I think a lot of people thought I would. I am working to find peace, healing, and happiness. I am settling into my life/home in ABQ, still feels so weird living in a house you have never known….but you are with me always. I still have my moments when I am consumed with sadness and cry my eyes out, especially around the hard anniversaries, our birthday, and holidays (even though you were such a Grinch at Christmas). Just know that I am okay, I will be okay… Until we are together again, you are on my mind every day and night. Me loves you, me loves you so much!! Twin promise (TP) forever

What A Year

September 1 , 2020

It’s been just over a year since my big move back to Albuquerque.  While 2020 has been a shit show for most of the world due to Covid, this has personally been both one of the most challenging yet fulfilling years of my life. Trying times either brings out the best or the worst in people and it’s up to us to figure out who we are when faced with extreme adversity. True colors come out and sometimes its not a pretty sight and other times, it can be quite a lovely surprise.

I know I will never get over the loss of Aily and there will always be really hard days, like anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays. I accept that and I don’t know if those days will ever be happy for me again, only time will tell. There are also some days out of the blue where her death consumes me and the loneliness fills my heart with sadness. But those are just days, here and there, usually when something big or new happens in my life. The day I got word of my new job, my new career path, I cried like a baby to my dad on the phone, because I felt like I was losing myself, losing the person Aily knew. The truth is, I was finding myself, the new me, the me without her. The thought of it scares me, I am not gonna lie, but for the first time in my life, I am making decisions for me and only me. I am for the first time being selfish, thinking about me and what I want, who I am, what I want in this world. I feel like I am where a 20 something year old is when they are venturing out in the adult world for the first time. I mean I have been a responsible adult most of my life, I pay my bills on time, every time, I have great credit, always give 150% to my job, and I think for the most part I have been a good daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, friend. At least I have always tried my best. Yes, I have slipped up here and there along the way, but who hasn’t? I always try to be the best person I can even though sometimes it hasn’t been enough. We are all human and despite the past mistakes, we can always do better, be better, and I think that’s what matters.

I know I want to make my Aily proud; I want to live life to the fullest for her and me, I promised her that I would do my best and I am. I love my new career choice, criminology/criminal justice has been a passion of mine for the past 20 years, and I am excited to see where it takes me. I genuinely enjoy my new job, it’s fascinating and I really like my co-workers as well, met some really amazing people I am happy to call friends. As my brother always tells me, through decades of reading and watching true crime, (despite him telling me I am sick, ha ha), this is my other calling, I have been training for this for years. Yes, I sleep like a baby after reading about criminal profiling and serial killers, yet horror movies make me sleep with every light on in the house for weeks. After years of going back and forth on going back to school for criminal justice, I am so glad I did, cause I loved it and I excelled. I know I will bring the same enthusiasm to this new career as I did to work my way up the ranks in the professional kitchen. My passion for cooking will never fade, and I will continue to cook for friends and family, and any private cooking jobs I can take on the side. My kitchen, my chef’s knife, my music blaring in the background will always be my happy place, full of memories of all the wonderful food I made for everyone, especially Aily and the times we worked together catering at the law firm in Seattle, together. Some of the best memories of my life. She always called me her personal chef, and I called her my sous chef.

Well this year is fucked, for many continued reasons, and I can only wish next year is better and I am hopeful for big changes, unity, resilience, and a cure/vaccine for this damn virus. This has also personally been a hard year, the house flood, personal/medical problems which I am still dealing with (nothing life threatening as far as I know, or hope anyway, so no need to worry), and loneliness. The social distancing required to be safe and keep others safe from Covid has made me spend more time alone than I have, well ever…I always had Aily or friends and family around whether I wanted to or not. Ha ha…but these past 6 months has forced me to be alone most of the time, and while it’s been lonely, it’s also pushed me to figure out me, who I am and what I want. And while I still struggle every day being a twin-less twin, missing Aily more than anything else in this world, I know I will be okay. Two years ago, when she first passed away; I honestly didn’t know if I would ever be OK, I didn’t know if I would ever allow myself to. I wasn’t sure if I could find my way without her, without us. I didn’t want to be here without her. I never thought I would be where I am today. My heart is still broken, the wounds are still fresh, I still have a deep sadness that makes me cry. I still have trouble allowing myself to be happy, not sure if I can ever be truly happy and guilt free again, but I am trying. I am finally taking care of me, eating well, working out, going to the doctor regularly (even though it’s kicking my ass in more ways than one), and taking lots of personal time for me and my mental health. These past 3 months have been emotionally difficult and I think they always will, but I know that on some level I will be OK, I will make it through.

I am a different, new Siobhan, not perfect in anyway, but I will always try to do my best. I actually do my hair and makeup and dress up from time to time (in my head I can hear my mom yelling, FINALLY!!! She swears I am single because I still dress like a rebellious teenager or homeless person, depending on if I am wearing jeans or my sweats, ha ha! I always tell her I am wearing my fancy jeans whenever I am with her.) I will always be a t shirt, jeans, sneakers, sports loving kinda girl, but I am becoming comfortable in my own skin to finally be somewhat grown up, branch out, try new things, even if it’s just something as simple being a little more feminine and most importantly more confident in myself and who I can be. So for the rest of this shit year and every year going forward, I will always try to be a better me, a better daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, friend, co-worker, contributing member of society. I know there will be times when I stumble or fuck up, or be deeply sad and depressed, but I will never stop trying. Maybe someday I will find or allow myself to be truly happy, who knows…but I am optimistic. I am hopeful that one day I will be reunited with Aily and we will spend eternity together, and that’s what keeps me going. I hope that this world will get better, it needs to. We can and we desperately need change, we need a lot more love, kindness, unity, and selflessness.

 

Picture16

Our high school graduation when we had our whole lives ahead of us…

 

 

3rd Birthday Without You

July 20, 2020

Next to June 1st, this is the 2nd worst day of the year for me. I honestly don’t know if it will ever feel right celebrating my birthday again. I spent 39 birthdays with my twin and these last 3 have felt so empty and lonely. I know I know; I am always being told, “we all lost Ailish”, yes, I am aware of that fact, and I do not discount anyone else’s grief from the loss of my sister. But the truth is, no one will ever understand how profoundly this day hurts me, how our birthday breaks my heart each and every year I spend without her. I am constantly being told that I have to celebrate, that I shouldn’t be alone, I talk about her too much, and that I have to move on. Here is what I think, everyone grieves in their own way; some people are devastatingly affected for months leading up to a pivotal anniversary or birthday, some people do not fall apart until the day of. Some people need to be around others to get through the tough times, some people need to grieve alone. I am definitely the latter; I don’t like crying around other people and this day undeniably brings the tears. This blog is my therapy, this helps me get through the hard times which is why on days like this, I write.  I apologize if I sound bitter or annoyed, but I do not tell others how to grieve or how to feel when they are dealing with loss and I don’t know why so many people feel the need to tell me, especially when they don’t understand the magnitude of losing your TWIN…something you cannot fathom or understand unless you are one. Every loss is different and heartbreaking in their own way, and I would never try and say I understand what someone else is feeling or going through, nor would I tell anyone how they should or shouldn’t grieve.

This year since my last birthday has been full of ups and downs but let’s be honest, 2020 is pretty much a shitshow and disaster for everyone so far. Here is to hoping and praying that something fucking changes and we can stop this God damned virus. I am saddened to see this needlessly continue to spiral out of control and all the lives that have been lost and will continue to be lost because of it….that is all I can say about that. My faith in humanity is gone…it’s all just shit right now. Hope you all weren’t expecting a happy post because this is definitely not it. Guess I am bitter, angry, heart-broken, and hopeless today. And you know what, that’s okay, I am allowed to feel all this shit right now and I won’t apologize for that. As long as I am not taking it out on anyone, I am good, that’s why I am writing this, so I can get all my feelings, good/bad/ugly out in the healthiest way I know.

I am angry, I am heart broken, I am sad that I have to celebrate this day alone, that she got sick, that I couldn’t fucking save her. I hate how the vivid memories of the last few months of her life play over and over in my head, especially around days like today. I hate that I cannot turn them off, I hate that I want to. I hate this pain that never goes away, the hole in my heart that will never fill. I hate not hearing her voice, her laugh, seeing her face, being silly together. I hate that I don’t feel her presence close to me even though she promised she always would be, even after she dies. I would give anything to have one more birthday with her…..

My dearest Aily,

Happy birthday, wherever you are. Even though I cannot feel you, I know you are there, but feel free to send me a sign…we both know I can be pretty dense sometimes. In case you are able to see me crying or see what I just wrote, do not worry I am okay, I will be okay. I just needed to get that out, I am not at Aily rage level, yet. Ha ha ha.  I miss you every God damn day and even more so today. You were and always will be my hardest goodbye. I hope we will be together again someday; that is the one thing that keeps me going. I hope I am making you proud. Me loves you, me loves you so much! Vani

3rd birthday post pic3.png3rd birthday post pic13rd birthday post pic2

This is 42!!

 

 

 

2nd Anniversary

June 1st, 2020

I hate this day more than any other day of the year. It still feels like only yesterday I lost her, my best friend, my Aily. I replay this day over and over in my head, I can’t stop it, can’t control it. I still wonder if she was scared, if she knew she was dying, if she was at peace with it, if she was in pain….it’s haunting. I remember the moment she died….when Kieran told me to close my eyes….when I literally felt my heart shatter into a million pieces. I remember telling her I love you so much, it’s okay to let go, don’t hold on for me….repeating it until she stopped breathing…Jesus, these memories cut me like a knife, memories that will be with me forever, till the day I die. As I mentioned in a previous post, the beginning of the end happened on my Dad’s birthday in 2018, when she had the strokes and blood clots. Those 2 weeks from the strokes and her death were cruel, unfair, fucking awful to be completely honest. So, for these past two weeks I have been switching between the same emotions, anger, and sadness. Angry that she had to get sick and go through all this shit and sad that I am alone without my other half. I felt like I was losing my mind at times. I have lost myself, who I used to be…..I had to start over…

So many big changes for me this past year, moved back to NM, got my own place, and now a new career. I now work for the police department as an ID fingerprint technician. Finally using that degree!! For the record I really like my new job, I do miss cooking but, I find my new work genuinely fascinating. About a week or two into my new job I broke down sobbing. I realized that I am slowly becoming less and less of who I once was, and it scared the shit out of me. Aily has always known me as Chef Vani, that’s who I was both professionally and personally (she had her own personal chef in me) for all our adult life together. I started to feel like I didn’t recognize myself anymore, she wouldn’t recognize me anymore. I cried my eyes out on the phone with my dad (thank you dad, I know how hard it still is for you to talk about her), feeling so uneasy and guilty about moving on without her. I know, I know; she would want me to move on and be happy, but it’s not as easy as one would think. I know she would be proud of me and she always told me two things: when I went back to school to get my degree, I had the same kind of freak out, who am I if I am not a chef? She always told me, once a chef, always a chef. And as she got sick and we both knew it was terminal, she told me, once a twin, always a twin, no matter what. She was one of the smartest people I ever knew. Even though I know she is looking down on me smiling and proud, I still feel guilty and sad that I am no longer who I once was. Losing her has forever changed me in ways that are difficult to explain. While I am content and settled in my new home and life, I don’t know if I can be genuinely happy, if I ever will. I am not saying I am not pleased with my decisions to move and find a new career; I know this was what was best for me. But there is a sadness, a loneliness that never goes away. It’s like no matter how much I move on, how much I change and grow, there is that huge dark cloud looming over my head, reminding me of the hole in my heart, the loss of the most important person in my life.

I will be working at 4:01 am (3:01 am Seattle time), the exact minute she took her last breath. Now anyone who knows me, knows I really don’t like to cry in front of people (the exception of her Celebration of Life party), but I know it will be inevitable that the tears will fall while I am at work; I did, however, warn my supervisor, I wrote her an email explaining everything. I didn’t want her to think if she saw me crying at my desk it was because of the job. Really didn’t know the best way to address this, not huge into sharing personal stuff at work…but I felt like I did need to give her a heads up. This anniversary will be especially difficult as well, it’s my first one away from all my family, and since we are all self-quarantining, I will be completely alone. I know I will get through this….if I could make it through June 1st, 2018, (which to be totally honest, at times I wasn’t sure if I would), I can make it through anything. But today, today I am allowing myself to be heartbroken and sad. I will listen to sad music, cry, and grieve the loss of my twin and who I once was.

Ofrenda for Aily

ofrenda

Me working graveyard, it was towards the end of the shift….nice red eyes ha ha

working graveyard

some old pics of me and aily: first one is either 11th or 12 grade

me aily, high school

Me, Aily, Dad

me, aily, dad NY

Aily and Michael in NY….now they are both watching over me

aily, NY

I know I posted this last pic before, but it’s the last pic of Aily I got before shit went south and she absolutely loved her new do. She was so beautiful even when she was sick!

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Another Holiday Season Without Her

November 28th, 2019

This is the 2nd Thanksgiving without my twin. It’s not any easier than the last. The holidays are a stark reminder of being alone without her. I have moved away from my family, away from Seattle, which for the most part I think was the best decision, but during times like this, I miss them, I miss what my life used to be. I miss being in the house, the room that we shared. I miss the familiarity of the last 20 years I spent with her. I live in a new home, a home she’s never known, a place we have no memories together. It feels wrong, lonely, and sad. I don’t recognize my life sometimes and it scares me the further away I move from who I once was. I am still not sure of who I am, what my future holds, and sometimes it scares the shit out of me. Other times, I know I am strong, I am becoming my own person. Today, I hate it, I hate that I had no choice, I hate that she got sick and had to leave me, I hate that I am alone.

This pain, this sadness, this hole in my life that she left behind is so overwhelming, suffocating, especially on days like today. I am sorry for being so damn depressing in this post, but my heart is still broken. I know for as long as I live, it always will be.

I know today I should be thankful, and I am, I have an amazing network of family and friends, new and old. I wouldn’t be here without them. But today I am allowing myself to be sad, grieve, and miss the life I once knew.

Wherever you are Aily, I am forever thankful that I got to be your twin, your other half, and that we had the best 39 years together. I am thankful that I was with you everyday through your sickness, till your last breath. I am thankful I got to be your co-pilot. Me loves you, me loves you so much. I miss you more than you could ever know.

P.S. My house is already decorated for Christmas, just for you

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Me and Aily, I think this is from Pre-K

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Pic from my aunt and uncle’s house in Brooklyn on Christmas. God, I miss her everyday

 

 

Fuck Cancer

October 25th, 2019

Fuck you cancer, fuck you for taking so many beautiful people from this world. Fuck you for taking my twin sister. Fuck you for taking my amazing friend Lecia this week. Fuck you for causing so much pain and suffering to those fighting you and the family members who are at their side. Fuck you!!! I am so mad, angry, heartbroken, sick of losing people I love so much.

My loved ones may be gone, but cancer cannot take the love I have for them or the wonderful memories we shared. I would like to share some of my favorite memories of Lecia and my sister. As many of those who worked with us at the law firm knew, we were huge NBA fans. It was 2007and the new Big Three were formed in Boston, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen. Rajon Rondo was just starting to come into his own, learning from these veterans. Well my friend Lecia was a huge Lakers fan, Kobe Bryant being her favorite player. Aily loved Ray Allen, and I at the time was in awe of the blossoming Rajon Rondo. Our friend Tonya loved (and still does) LeBron James. I loved Kevin Garnett, but that’s another story. Anyway, we had our nicknames for each other, obviously Lecia’s name was Kobe, mine was Rondo, Aily’s was Allen, and Tonya was James. We worked a lot of late nights at the law firm together catering parties for them. We were lucky to have been able to have the chance to stay late some of these nights to watch basketball games together as our teams were in constant battle with one another at this time. Boston won the championship in 2008, so me and Aily’s team prevailed that year…just saying. Yes, Kobe and the Lakers kicked our asses for many years after that…but who’s counting? Ha ha. Anyway, at some point Lebron James had went to play for Miami and they became the new arch nemesis for Boston. Ray Allen left Boston to play with him and he became Nobody to us, so therefore my sister’s new nickname was Nobody and it used to make us all laugh. We even wrote it down on her work badge. We rarely ever called each other by our actual names, and I loved it, I loved how we all bonded and became so close because of our love of basketball.

Lecia had traveled a few times with me and my sister to Portland to watch some NBA games, as Seattle had lost their team. These were some of my favorite memories, where we spent time away from work, laughing, doing what we loved! At home, Lecia and I would always text each other during basketball games and she would laugh hysterically when I would be cursing when my team would play like shit.

Rest in peace Kobe and Nobody, Rondo loves and misses you both so much!! I know you are together, and we will all be reunited again someday.

Nobody badge

Aily’s work badge

LP Celtics 2012

One of the many late nights at the law firm watching basketball, and working

LP Xmas party 2010

One of our holiday parties

The Journey Continues

September 23, 2019

It’s been almost a month since my big move back to Albuquerque, NM. I have settled in quite nicely, catching up with old friends and adjusting to living alone. I enjoy my alone time, decorating my place just the way I want it. I love to come home because it feels like my home, a feeling I never had in Seattle. I miss my family, but I know this was the best thing I could do for me. I am working part time as a caretaker/helper for an elderly lady who I think is so remarkable. She has lived an amazing life and I am so happy to help her out in any way I can. I am looking for full time work, and hopefully the right job will come my way. I finally feel like I am living my life for me. I am doing what I want, not worrying about having to take care of anyone but myself.

There is one thing I cannot escape, the loneliness I feel not having Aily with me. I don’t really know how to verbalize this and explain this without sounding crazy or extremely weird. I am 41 years old and for the first time I am taking care of only myself, yet I feel this overwhelming sense of guilt and sadness knowing that I was forced into this situation, that this choice was not mine. I would give anything to grow old with my twin sister and we had planned our lives accordingly. Unfortunately, we have no control over what life throws our way, and I was forced into figuring out this life, alone without her. There are nights when I feel happy and content with my decision to move here. And then there are those nights where I am like, what the fuck did I do? Am I running away from her? I left our house, our memories, ran away from the sadness, the hurt I felt in Washington. I feel like a coward leaving our “room” (my parents dining room) where she passed, selfish for needing to get away.

I guess I will always feel this struggle, this guilt, this sadness….I don’t know, I am still navigating this new me, me without her. I know I shouldn’t feel bad and that she would be so happy for me and want me to move on. But honestly how does one truly move on from the one person in their life who knew them better than anyone? The one person who has been with them before birth? Their literal other half? Once a twin, always a twin, I guess. No matter how much you are an individual, you are always connected to that person even if they are no longer with you. Yes, this is the worst part of being a twin, being without them, continuing life alone.

I didn’t mean for this post to be so damn depressing, sorry about that. I know I have been struggling mentally with this during this past month. I know I have some anxiety about not working full time right now, but I know I will find something soon. I guess my anxiety brings out all of this shit and I needed to get this out. I cannot complain, even though I know it seems like I am, because despite the struggle, I am thriving, I am figuring things out. I am happy here; I am glad I moved to NM. Everything will just be an adjustment, a lifelong adjustment.

Thanks for listening.

Just some of my favorite pics of us:

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We were all so cute an innocent……that didn’t last long

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Gardening in our backyard in NY….Aily looks so chill and cool and I look like a jackass with my mouth wide open.

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Aily and Snickers, she loved him so much!!!