2019

January 7, 2019

Back in July of last year when I started this blog, the big question was, life without my twin, where do I go from here? Now here I am January 2019, six months later, and I still have no idea where my life is heading. 2018 was without a doubt, the worst year of my life, and I can only hope that 2019 has better things in store for me. As difficult as these past few years have been, they have also put my life in perspective. Even though I have no idea what lies ahead, I know definitively what is important to me, and what is trivial. At the start of every year, people make new year’s resolutions, some they stick to, some they soon forget. I have never been one of those people, I feel like the pressure sets one up for failure. Instead, for 2019 and for every year going forward, I am going to focus on me; making myself a better person, learning to make myself happy (travel and enjoy life), deciding my future (job/place to live), and how to live my life as me, instead of we.

If you were to ask me what would make me happy, I honestly don’t know right now. I have spent the last few years putting all my focus and energy into Ailish. I do not regret it one bit, I would do it all over in a heartbeat. I just realized, that while I spent so much time, energy, and mental capacity to taking care of her, I have completely forgotten what actually makes me happy. I also feel so robbed of happiness since Aily passed away. Nothing feels the same anymore, there is an emptiness I cannot describe. I have never been good at putting my needs first, even before Ailish got sick. I know Aily wants me to live the life we wanted to have, be happy, and live life to the fullest. I must keep reminding myself to not feel guilty, that me being happy doesn’t mean I am leaving her behind. I struggle with that every day. I have decided that I am going to travel as much as I can every year. I want to visit my friends and family, near and far, as much as I can. Tomorrow isn’t promised, and it’s so easy to just say, oh I will try to see them next year. Well years pass, and unless we proactively put forth the effort, there are many missed opportunities to spend time with loved ones. I also want to do one bucket list item each year to honor Ailish.

Where do I go from here? Hell, if I know!!! All I do know is, I have had more stress in the past few years to last me the rest of my life!!! I need a break, some time to recover. I know that money and material possessions mean very little to me, and it’s all about making memories. Don’t get me wrong I will not be unemployed forever (I like being financially independent), I won’t be homeless, rack up debt, incur bad credit (If Aily taught me one thing, it’s to always keep perfect or near perfect credit and be smart with my money) , or without my “man cave” sized TV (to watch sports), but mostly I want the simple things, happiness, love, making memories with friends and family, and putting good back into the world. Who knows what 2019 or the future holds in store for me, but at least I can say I have goals I am working towards and right now that’s the best I can do. I know I will never be the same Siobhan as I was before Ailish died. As I embark on this new year, I am hopeful that 2019 will be much better than last, and I can find and embrace the new Siobhan.

Here are some old pics I wanted to share:

me and aily in strollers

looks like we were plotting our escape!!!

aily with bowl on her head

Aily thought the bowl was a hat

me talking to my spoon

I am having an intense conversation with my spoon

fav pic of aily

One of my favorite pics of her as a child

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The last pic I took of her before she died…she had finally gotten her hair cut and she loved it!!!

My First Christmas Without You

December 25, 2018

My Dearest Aily,

It just doesn’t feel right celebrating today without you. You have been by my side for almost 40 years, we have celebrated every holiday together, and now I am trying to figure out how to do this without you. I am doing my best to be brave and put on my happy face, but my heart is so broken, I feel so alone without you. I am sitting here staring at the Christmas tree I sneakily bought and decorated while you were at work 4 years ago. I am looking at all the decorations we gathered while we were on our many travels. I am so grateful for the memories we made after your diagnosis, we got to see the world!!! This time last year we were in Australia, and it was one of the best we ever had. I find some comfort in those memories and how much fun we had together. I had no idea that it would be our last Christmas together, and the thought of that today just crushes me with paralyzing sadness.

As I write this, I can’t stop the tears from falling wishing we were together today, I would give anything to spend one more Christmas with you. I know you would want me to be happy and celebrate today, and I am trying, I really am. I try to be so strong, but today I can’t…today I am allowing myself some time to fall apart. I knew today would be hard, but honestly it is kicking my ass. I am sitting here in our bedroom/dining room, on our bed where you took your last breaths, looking over on your side of the bed…it feels like a bad dream, a nightmare, one I cannot wake up from as hard as I try. I just can’t believe you, the most important person in my life, my other half, my partner in crime, is gone. I am so thankful you are no longer suffering and at peace, but I miss you more than you could ever imagine.

When I am finished writing this, I will dry my tears, pull myself together, and be strong for you, make you proud. I will finish cooking for everyone, and I will continue our tradition of watching Christmas NBA games. It won’t be the same watching them without you, but I will root for our teams for both of us. I hope you and Michael are celebrating together and know how much I miss and love you both! Aily, I am still trying to figure out how to move on without you, and I don’t think I am as brave and strong as you thought, but I am doing my best. Me loves you, me loves you so much!!! Ice bear misses Pan Pan!!! TP forever,

Vani

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My tree that you loved to hate…..

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I bought this, you are now my angel

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Last Christmas, our last night in Australia

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Some oldies, but goodies

christmas vani looks pissed

Ha ha ha, I liked this one cause I am making the, “I am gonna beat some ass” face that you always say I make!!! (Which I think you are right, because I am making the same face in my driver’s license)

Happy Thanksgiving?

November 21, 2018

Today, I am not even sure where to begin. My head and heart have been in a dark place for the past few months, (It’s part of the reason I haven’t been very active on my blog).  I thought as time went on, things would get easier, but it seems to be the complete opposite. It seems like the more time that passes without her, the more it hurts. I haven’t been writing because I don’t want every post to be about me being sad and depressed, or how I am struggling to cope with losing Aily. Who wants to read a million posts about someone who is trying to deal with the loss of their twin? I have to admit, lately I have been putting on a brave face for family and friends, because I don’t want to bring others down, I don’t want them to worry. I am afraid sometimes that people might think I am being unhealthy by continuing to wallow in my sadness, but it’s something lately I can’t seem to control. There are days where even getting up to shower is overwhelming and a struggle. There are days when I don’t shower (it’s never more than 1 day I skip for a shower, I am sad, not a savage), because I can’t even bring myself to face the day. I know that grief comes and goes in waves, and that I am probably extra sad now because of the holidays coming up, and it will be my first Thanksgiving and Christmas without my twin. Just the thought of it gives me anxiety and makes me want to cry. My anxiety has been coming in waves as well, but I am continuing my medication, and I feel like I would be much worse without it.

I will also admit that I haven’t yet seen a therapist/counselor/psychologist yet. I thought with the blog, I would be able to help myself cope, and it does, it’s great therapy but, I know now it’s not enough. I felt like I was doing really well for a while, traveling, hanging out with friends, being more social, getting back into the world, so I thought maybe I didn’t need it. I have recently joined an online support group of twins who have lost their twin as adults. I have to say, it really has helped me a lot meeting other twins who really know how I am feeling and discovering that I all the things I feel, and experience are normal. I think I mentioned in a previous post that during those times when I replay the last few weeks of Ailish’s life in my head (which is out of my control, I wish I could, it creates many sleepless nights) and how traumatizing it is for me, and almost feels like PTSD, well apparently, it’s completely normal. There are a lot of twins getting trauma and PTSD counseling. This has pushed me into going to get some professional help for myself. It’s not that I was against going to get help before, I had some appointments set up that were cancelled due to the counselor being ill, but I thought I was doing ok. I thought I was handling things well enough on my own. I think between my blog, my new twin support group, and some counseling, there will be easier days ahead. I will still have shitty, gloomy, depressed, grief filled days (like on Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) I am sure, but I am hopeful for a lot sunnier, happier, hopeful days ahead too.

 

So, tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I wanted to share with everyone what I am thankful for, because despite this shitty cloud hanging over my head at the moment, I do have a lot to be thankful for. I am thankful, that even though my heart hurts more than I could have ever imagined, that Ailish is no longer suffering and is at peace wherever she is. I am thankful that we got to share 39 almost 40 years together, and she was my other half, my bestest friend. I am thankful for all the amazing memories we made!!! I am thankful that I was able to be her caretaker and spend every day with her and be by her side. I am thankful for my health, I have tests run every year to check for cancer and I have been cleared every year so far. I am thankful that I have healed from my hysterectomy and that I will have a better quality of life. I am thankful that I have my parents who allow me to live with them until I figure out what I am doing with my life (even though they have a personal chef out of this deal, so we both win). I am thankful for my family who has shown me so much love and understanding and are patient with me through this. I am thankful for my friends and all the wonderful friends I have made through my sister, you have shown me how loved Ailish was by all of you, and how you have extended that love and friendship to me. I am thankful for the kindness of strangers (yes Ronni, I am talking about you), who have restored my faith in humanity. I am forever grateful. I am thankful for Snickers and yes Mom, Buddy too, because animals always have a way to make you smile. Now if only I can talk my dad into getting my therapy alpaca!! Just kidding….kinda. I am thankful that I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food in my belly. These simple things are taken for granted and there are so many people who do not have them.

Thank you all for sticking with me through these rough times, I hope I haven’t made you all too depressed. For everyone and everything I am grateful for, this just pushes me to be a better person, to return the love and friendship I have received, and to give back to others as much as I can.

One of mine and Aily’s favorite things to do for Thanksgiving when family was out of town, was to NOT cook. We would go get Chinese food or whatever restaurant we could find that was open. So tomorrow, my brother and I will be getting Korean BBQ, I don’t want to break this tradition. Also, I have a tradition to put my Christmas tree up on Thanksgiving, much to Ailish’s dismay, but she couldn’t have her way all the time. Plus, once she found out she didn’t have to help decorating, she grew to love it!!!

Happy Thanksgiving, gobble gobble!!! (Actually, stay away from turkeys this year, there was a big recall due to salmonella outbreak, stay away from romaine lettuce too. I guess this means more room for dessert!!!)

Here are some pics through the years, I thought I would share with you all!!!

welcome picture

My best friend since the beginning!!!

me and aily in front of closet

My other half!!!

high school prom

Our prom night obligatory pic with the parents….

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My partner in crime!!! (NYC Times Square 2016, we weren’t in trouble, my detective cousin wanted us to take pics with these two cops)

 

Healing

October 30, 2018

It’s been about 2 weeks since my hysterectomy and I am healing well. I am still a little sore and puffy, but I am definitely over the worst of it!!! I still have pains, but they are also similar to the pains I have had almost every day dealing with endometriosis. Even though that is not cured from my hysterectomy, the adenomyosis and fibroids are. I wasn’t very nervous for my surgery until about the day before. I have been wanting this for so long, I was mostly excited to finally get this done. My family was there for me, helping ease my anxiety, and fulfilling the duties Aily would have normally done.

My mom bought me my baby, and I brought him to the hospital with me, and he wore my necklace with Aily’s ashes while I was in surgery. My dad took two days off work to help take care of me, the day of surgery and the day after. My dad drove me to the hospital and waited with me until they took me back into surgery. It was pretty funny, prior to surgery, I had to take a pregnancy test, which is pretty standard, but the nurse took one look at my dad, and whispered to me, that she was leaving the cup in the bathroom, and to leave it there when I was done. Ha ha ha, I am sure if I was pregnant, he would have figured it out when they cancelled the hysterectomy!! Then what was even funnier, after surgery when they were giving me discharge instructions, they told me to wait 6 weeks to have sex. I looked over at my dad who was visibly uncomfortable and he was looking around the room, trying not look like he could hear her (even though he was less than 5 feet away from the nurse). Talk about awkward, for both of us! My dad is such a trooper.

Thankfully, I was able to go home that night and didn’t have to stay overnight in a hospital. After spending so much time in hospitals this past year with Aily, that was the last place I wanted to be. My mom who is a nurse, took care of me when I got home, she cooked me food and made sure I was comfortable through the night. My brother also helped take care of me and even bought me a mini fridge so I didn’t have to walk too far to get my water and iced tea. Two days after my surgery, my parents went out of town for a much-needed vacation. Two days after that, my brother went out of town for work, but I wasn’t left alone. My good friend Jessi came into town for 9 days to help take care of me, the house, and the dogs. I had lovely visits from my friends Allison, Heather, Aliesha, and Steve. I want to thank all my wonderful friends and family who sent funny gifts, necessities to make recovering a lot easier, flowers to brighten my day, and pre-made meals; they were life savers!!! I am forever grateful and so very very lucky!!! This was definitely a time when I missed Aily the most (okay, let’s be real, I miss her so much every day), but I am so glad to have had so many people there to help me through it.

foxbaby after hysterectomy

The baby from my mom, I told her how Aily used to always buy me one after surgery! I would have given anything to have her with me that day.

Aily surgery letter 1

Aily surgery letter 2

Past letters from Aily after previous surgeries!!! God, I miss her sense of humor!!!

Halloween costumes

Since tomorrow is Halloween, I wanted to add this cute photo of us as kids in our Halloween costumes.

Seasons Change, Nothing is the Same

October 16th, 2018

I know it’s been a while since I have written a blog post, but to be completely honest, I just haven’t mentally had it in me to write. I have been taking some “me time”, to cope with things, do some traveling, and preparing myself for some big life changes as well.

Fall has always been my favorite time of year. I love the cool crisp air, the changing colors of all the leaves, the need for warm and cozy clothes and blankets, but mostly because it is the start of the NBA season. As I am sitting here watching the opening night of this NBA season, I laugh as I watch Shaq, Ernie, Kenny, and Charles banter back and forth with KG who accidentally says SHIT on live TV during the TNT basketball pre-game show. I watch the Boston Celtics kick the 76er’s asses. The Golden State Warriors are receiving their championship rings and raising the banner for being the champions from last season. This is bittersweet for me because watching the NBA was one of mine and Ailish’s favorite things to do. Whether we bought tickets and traveled to watch our favorite teams and players in person, or watched from home, we always cherished watching these games together.

I distinctly remember after Aily had the strokes last May, she was never quite herself again. She didn’t really have her spark anymore, had a flat affect, didn’t initiate conversations, and only spoke when spoken to, except when the NBA playoffs were on. We spent a lot of time in the hospital her last few weeks, and so we watched as much basketball together while we were there. She would always pat her hand on the bed to signal me to lay next to her and watch the games. It was during the games I would see glimpses of the old Aily come back. She would high five me and cheer when our team would do well and would say “shit” or “god damn it” when our team did stupid shit. So, yeah, the start of this NBA season is bittersweet, and NBA basketball will always hold a special place in my heart. Also, court-side NBA tickets were on her bucket list!!! It obviously meant a hell of a lot to her as well. Tonight, as I continue watching Golden State play OKC, I am excited for the new season, but sad to be watching it alone. (Actually, Kieran is nice enough to watch it with me).

Like I have said before, there are lots of things I will have to get used to doing alone and learning to cope with that reality is just as hard. For the last 10 years I have been dealing with endometriosis, adenomyosis, and fibroids, and I have had 3 laparoscopic surgeries to help with symptoms and help treat it. Ailish has been by my side after all these surgeries, with a sweet hand-written letter and a baby (stuffed animal, that’s what we call them) waiting for me when I am in recovery. Tomorrow I am having a hysterectomy to help treat and cure a few of these problems. This will be the first surgery I have without Ailish waiting for me, writing me a funny letter, telling me to hurry up and wake up because she is hungry, and that she has a cute fluffy baby waiting to cuddle with me. Before she was diagnosed with cancer, she always took care of me, was my nurse after these surgeries, my care taker. I miss her every day, but I definitely miss her the most at times like this.

I apologize for not being the most social sister/aunt/daughter/friend at times, not visiting everyone I wanted to during my travels, and not keeping up with my blog, but I am doing my best to cope. I still have good days and bad days, and still learning how to weather these storms. Like clockwork, the seasons change, yet this year, nothing is the same.

pre kindergartenme and aily earl

Always had each other’s backs!!

On Step Forward, Two Steps Back

September 17, 2018

I got home from Georgia on the 12th. It was a much-needed getaway and quality time with my BFF.  It was hard to come home. But during the last hour of the plane ride home, something hit me, like a punch to the stomach, a slap in the face. I was overcome with sadness. This new normal of being without her is here, whether I am ready for it or not. I cried that whole last hour on the plane, thank God for sunglasses and my hoodie. The realization that Aily was not going to be there to greet me when I got back was more than I could take.

It was a big step for me to get on that plane and leave here for two weeks, and I don’t regret a second of it. It truly was the best thing I could have done for myself. I now know that I can be “social” again, be happy, smile, and laugh. I can meet amazing people, and genuinely enjoy life again. However, I felt like I took two steps back when I sat there crying on the plane, paralyzed with sadness and heartbreak. I know it takes a long time to grieve and heal, and honestly in ways I know I will never be the same. Ailish’s death has forever changed me, and I continue to struggle with referring to things as just “me” instead of “us”. I remember soon after Ailish passed, my Dad said, “I can no longer say my girls” and he got choked up and walked away. That broke my heart into a million pieces, as much as we hated it sometimes, I would give anything to be referred to as “the twins” again. I feel like I have spent my life trying to find my own personal identity aside from being a twin, and now that I am forced into this, I am struggling to move on and find my way.

When trying to move on, there are a lot of feelings of guilt, like you are leaving that person behind. I feel almost like I am disrespecting her memory when I am laughing and having a good time. It’s like telling her I didn’t love her enough, or I am forgetting her. I know these are crazy thoughts, because Ailish knew how much I loved her, how much I will always love her, and that I could never ever forget her. But sometimes in that moment, I do feel this way, and I am afraid to move forward with my life.

I know that I have to take things one day at a time, and I am, it’s just these past few days have been particularly difficult. I know there are better days ahead, and that it’s okay to have these shitty days. I just have to keep taking one step forward, no matter how many steps back these heartbroken days set me back.

 

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Aily at the airport in January 2017, on our way to MD Anderson for treatment

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Me on the way to the airport with Aily, January 2017, same trip to MD Anderson. I was wearing a mask cause my Dad was sick and I was determined not get his cold.

I miss us being silly like this all the time!!!

 

My First Getaway

September 9, 2018

I have to admit, since my Ailish passed away in June, I have had a really difficult time trying to adjust. I haven’t spent a lot of time out with friends, avoiding a lot of social activities. This is my first trip away, because I almost felt guilty leaving home, where Ailish and I have spent so much of the past 2 ½ years, and where Ailish passed away. I was afraid to leave her behind. I knew at some point I would need to rejoin society, learn how to move on and travel without my twin. I decided my first trip away would be to visit my best friend who knows me the best, and has been there for me unconditionally through the past 20 plus years. She is currently living in Georgia, so we planned this two week getaway for me. I have to say, it’s the best thing I could have done.

Buttcheeses in Savannah

As my first trip away nears the end, I have had an incredible time out here in Georgia. We have eaten at some incredible restaurants, visited amazing places, met some wonderful people, and spent some much needed BFF time together. I have found moments during these past few weeks where I feel truly happy, and I haven’t felt that way in a long time. I almost wondered if I would ever be able to feel that again. I have met some really good people out here in Georgia, friends of my best friend and her husband. We went out one night for dinner with my best friend’s husband and his friend and wife. We laughed so much at dinner; I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard with people I just met. I met a co-worker of my best friend, who has one of the warmest and funniest personalities I ever encountered. We talked and bonded over tragedy, both knowing the loss of a loved one from cancer. It sucks to meet people who know the heartache and shittiness of cancer, and the devastation it leaves on a family, but it’s also comforting to talk to someone who knows exactly what you are going through.

I have missed my sister on this trip, it was always the 3 of us exploring and eating our way through new cities on our adventures. There was so many times where I would think to myself, Ailish would have loved this, she would have loved this city, or she would have loved this meal we just ate. My best friend had rented a lake house for us this past weekend and out of both bedrooms I had to choose from they both had 2 beds (one room had bunkbeds and the other had two twin beds). It was a stark reminder that I was now alone, that I would have to get used to her not being here anymore. There are tons of daily reminders, even when I am at home that forces me to face this fact. It is inescapable, and another thing I will have to get used to.

Savannah trees

Savannah Trees at night, Ailish would have loved this picture!!!

Spending time with my best friend was just what I needed. We can talk for hours, eat at fancy restaurants, and be just as content sitting in the same room together in silence, or eating at a local fast food joint. No matter what it is we are doing, it’s fun because we are together. This trip with my best friend was just what I needed and it was also the sort of the kick in the pants I needed to get out and find my happiness.

After Ailish’s diagnosis, we traveled the world, made amazing memories, and spent as much time together as we could. Even though we were having some of the best times of our lives, there was always the cancer cloud looming over our heads. It’s almost like I didn’t know how to be really happy anymore, we were always wondering when her health would take a turn, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Well on June 1st, the shoe fucking dropped, and no matter what, no one can ever prepare themselves on how to deal with the aftermath. I know this will be a long journey and it will take a long time for anything to ever feel “normal” again, if it ever does. I just have to learn how to adjust to this new normal. For now, this is just what I needed, two weeks with my best friend to remind me it’s okay to laugh and be happy. I know this is what Aily wants for me too.

NY Oct 2017

In NYC September 2017, me, Aily, Mary!!! Oh yeah, and we allowed my brother to join us!!! Ha ha ha