A Meeting Place for Early loss twins

This is really my twin's Enjy's place, not mine. S/He does not have any other place in this world. S/He was miscarried at age four months in the womb. We were twins and made to be together for years and we were torn apart within seconds. This is the place where I go to talk to him/her and about him/her. Anyone who has lost a twin in utero or very early is very welcome here to read and share.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Books on twinloss N° 13 "One" by Sarah Crossan

"One", published in 2015 has been heaped with praise, and rightly so. Sarah Crossan presents the story of conjoined twins Tippi and Grace in freely flowing verse, so it doesn't really unfold but pops into the reader's face and heart directly from the twins' life.

Tippi and Grace ( named after Hitchcock film actresses) are sixteen and literally joined at the hip. They are ischiopagus tripus conjoined twins, two heads, upper torsos, four arms and one abdomen and two legs. The physiological phenomena to a certain degree resemble those of conjoined twins Abby and Britanny Hensel, in any way Crossan must have done tons of research and she did them thoroughly. Tippi and Grace present the everyday routines of conjoined life in sentences as broken as they seem in "normal" peoples' eyes and yet adding up to a whole existence. Of two people.
The twins have to go to school. They used to be homeschooled but money has run out. As young children, unusual and cute, they would have got donations, but as teenagers those have dried up, their father has lost his job, their younger sister has to have a job to pay for her ballett lessons, their mother works extra hours at the bank and if it wasn't for grandmother the family would totally fall apart. Conjoined twins are an expensive asset health insurances aren't too keen on.
Crossan doesn't spare her readers a single detail but doesn't string them up neatly on a story line but lets them fall from her hand or throws them or accidentally drops them. So we learn about how it goes at school, about the actual and also very unusual friends the twins make, Yasmeen and Jon, how they cook, how they shower, how they are sick, how they soldier on, how their family tries to function, how they live.
Tippi and Grace are one but two. They are two persons but forced into one body, one life, one fate.
They know all the time that if one should die, so would the other.
The story is told by Grace and while Tippi seems to be the twin who lives every moment to its fullest, it is Grace who will have a future, for this is a story about twin loss, too.

The health condition that eventually threatens this one life in two starts with Grace collapsing and later Tippi, too. It's Grace's heart that fails and since their metabolism is effectively one, Tippi's heart works for the two of them and consequently soon will fail, too. The only chance to save, maybe, both girls, but at least one, is surgical separation.
Conjoined twins are normally separated in infancy. Not only is a separation at age 16 difficult and dangerous, it also poses much more of a challenge on the identity of the girls. Not only their parents, THEY have to take the decision. Grace needs a heart transplant but isn't elligible for organ transplantation while conjoined, anyway, doing a heart operation on their conjoined body is an incalculable risk. It's separation or death for both girls.
Again Crossan spills the details in verse at us. Where does the additional skin come from when conjoined twins are separated? You'll learn, dear reader, you'll learn.

Grace tells the story, so the outcome is kind of predictable. "One" is a special book. About twin loss and about twin life. An encouraging book. An inspiring book. A book that if read by a twinless twin may invoke heartbreak and crumbling existence all over again, but then the book is already broken und crumbling with its short chapters in tumbling verses and broken lines, and they add up to a poetic entity, one life, two persons, one love.
Highly recommended.

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