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.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Books on Twinloss N° 14 "The One Left Behind" by Willo Davis Roberts

This small book is one of my favourites. In no more than 140 pages we learn how the loss of a twin differently affects a family and the surviving twin. Acclaimed writer Willo Davis Roberts (1949-2004) introduces the reader to the Sebold family, five boys in different stages of teenage and young adult, schizophrenic uncle Frank (quite a dear) and 11-year old Mandy whose identical twin sister Angel died one year ago.
The family is close but, as it turns out, not close enough to notice that in the general hubbubb of planning a weekend with the parents gone to celebrate their 24th wedding anniversary, Mandy gets left behind at home on her own.
Mandy is left alone in more than one sense. Her family, although grieving for her sister Angel after she died from accidental food poisoning, has moved on. Her brother Bert is newly married, the other brothers have sports and peers and girls to fill their lives. Mandy is drifting through an everyday life that no longer feels like hers and the others don't seem to notice. And now she is left behind when everybody rushes away for the weekend.
Willo Davis Roberts perfectly captures the situation of the young surviving twin in the lines "It occurred to her now, in the middle of the night in the huge silent house, that even if the entire family had been home, she would still be alone. She could not reach out and touch any of them, nor would it mean anything if she could." (p.4)

I sometimes think no more words are needed to describe the feelings of a twinless twin.

But, of course, the book uses some more words, and so we learn about the relationship between Angel and Mandy. How Angel had always been "the best and the smartest and the prettiest" (p.13), the daring one, the one to intiate social contact, and how Mandy realises she is lost without her sister. Their make-believe games played in the coastal area they live in, involving rather risky trips to the beach and deserted lighthouses, for instance, were the twins' favourite past time, and Mandy tries to carry them on on her own. She knows Angel so well she is able to provide her parts as well as her own. The make-believe turns into the life line the little girl unconsciously uses to survive the unsurvivable: the loss of her twin.
And then suspense is added. Willo Davis Roberts was known to write stories full of suspense, mysterious figures and crime and "The One Left Behind" is no exception. First there are noises in the house, empty but for Mandy and the giant family dog, Herry. Then there are foot prints in the sand and a wrecked car in the undergrowth. Mandy knows Angel would not have left any of these things unexplored, and neither does she.

The story of Xander, the boy who kidnapped his little brother from a devious baby-sitter and went to hide at his great-grandmother's beach house not knowing she passed away some time ago, interweaves with Mandy's left-behindness. It's Angel's presence, her sense of still being a twin, that allows Mandy to deal with the situation, make decisions and in the end bring a highly dangerous situation to a good end.
Of course, big dog Herry and her mother's schizophrenic brother Frank also play a part in this, together with the local police officer Clancy who never before had such a crime at his hands. He quite rises to the occasion.

The setting, all in all, is a close-knitted community where people, even the weird ones, look out for one another, and that makes the book thoroughly endearing. The largely unnoticed loneliness of the twinless twin runs like an undercurrent through the story, and is brought to an end satisfactiory for the reader in the concluding lines from Mandy's thoughts that "she was pretty sure that from now on, even all by herself, she would be able to lean on what Angel would have thought or said. Because she knew Angel that well. Nobody would ever be able to change that." (p.138)

It's a childrens book, after all, and the pain and loneliness have to morph into something hopeful for the future, but it's also a book for twinless twins of all ages to spend an hour or two on and savour some lines which really hit the nail on the head. I like to come back to it again and again.

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