Last week, Kari Browder shared a personal story of an ebenezer (“stone of help”) moment in her life and invited others to contribute theirs. This story comes from Betsy Miller:
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalm 23: 4
I am an identical twin. I have included a picture above to show you because sometimes it is hard to envision without an actual picture. We are not just identical twins; we are mirror twins. I am right handed and my sister is left handed; mirror images of each other. Mirror twins are the most identical type of twins. Everything is identical just opposite even down to our retinas. Identical twins kick each other, hug each other, and even suck each other’s fingers and toes. In other words, twins learn about each other from the moment they are conceived. We are born into this world with a best friend. Because I did not know life any other way, I took this friendship for granted.
We came into the world less than a year after our parents were married. What a wedding present we were! Young married life is hard enough without the constant attention that a set of twins need, especially born a month early. The stories of our first year were full of sleepless nights, continual feedings, constant washing of bottles, boiling bottles, etc. Somehow my parents made it through. Who needed a friend over to play; we had each other to play with. I have even been told we had our own language: very typical of twins.
In the third grade, Meg and I were blessed to have had a chance to go to St. Thomas School. I cannot tell you how great it is to go to a new place with your best friend and not all alone like everyone else. Not only did we get a good education, but we went to chapel first period every day. What a great gift it was to start your day with prayer. We were in the same class; so we were able to do our homework together. The in the fifth grade, our parents divorced. This is when God really did take care of us making sure we had what was needed. Despite little money, dinner was always on the table, clothes were available when they were needed. How can you worry, we knew God was with us!
It was kind of strange how Meg and I would wear the same clothes despite being in separate rooms. We even did this when we lived apart as adults. As we grew up, we were able to share our beliefs together. We talked of science and how the world around reflected God’s most wondrous hands of creation. We mused on the meaning of the Trinity. We studied together; we planned our futures; we prayed together. (Oh, I do not want to lead you astray, we could have hum dingers of fights, too!) Meg was always there with an encouraging word; a Bible verse to handle any problem. We could finish each other’s sentences, literally. My husband thinks he can finish my sentences, but he cannot. She was the one who helped me through my divorce of my first husband. She was my maid of honor at both my weddings. She was the second person I told I was expecting my daughter. She was even my daughter’s godmother.
A twin is an amazing safety net. I never worried too much about other people. Friends could come and go. People could do their mean things; it did not matter. I had one person who knew everything about me, and loved and accepted me the way I was, as I did her. Who cared what the rest of the world did to us, we had each other. Just think, having someone to share the embarrassment of having “Happy Birthday” sung to you at a restaurant. There was never an “I,” it was always “We.”
But to my horror, on May 8, 2002, the unthinkable happened. God called Meg home. I never seemed to question where she had gone. There were no goodbyes. Only I felt as if my soul had been ripped in half. My soulmate was gone. The one person in the world who knew me best and loved me anyway was gone. I think only God knows me better than Meg did. How to go on alone when everything I had ever done had been with another person?
The night we told Natalia, our daughter, who was only 7 at the time, that her Aunt Meg was gone, she looked at me and asked, “Mommy, are you going to heaven, too?” Is this not the common thought of all who deal with twins; is it not our own thought as twins? We come into to this world together, are we not supposed to leave this world together? We may have entered the world together, but that does not mean that God takes us together. But the question comes how to live without your twin. I was definitely in “the valley of the shadow of death.” There wasn’t any help; there weren’t any meals brought by friends, there weren’t any phone calls. There was only God, Scott, Natalia, and Natalia’s schedule. (First graders really do need a lot.) God was my rod and my staff. He helped me keep a routine which saved me.
The hope that we will meet again keeps me going on days that are hard. Studying Jacob’s ladder, I found a wonderful comment from Matthew Henry. “Jacob’s ladder with the ascending and descending angels “represents the providence of God by which there is a constant correspondence kept up between heaven and earth. Providence does its work gradually, step by step.”
God did this with me. Step by step He has helped me move on with life, learning to live with and accept the gaping hole in my heart that can never be filled. Some days I still struggle without my safety net. There is not a day that goes by in which I do not think of Meg, and I do not think there ever will be. But I have made it to the other side of the valley of the shadow of death with God’s help. There is no way I believe that this was a good thing; but I do know that with God’s help, I have learned to live without her.