by Judy Haughton-James
A new year is here and I seem to be on an endless climb out of a valley. I found myself tossed into this deep valley following the deaths of two family members. At times, I have felt the stress of it all which has made me listless and weary. However, I have kept on climbing as that is the only way to make life meaningful.
I am writing this article a few days after the first anniversary of the death of my brother Sutcliffe who suffered a heart attack on December 28, 2011.
This past holiday season was yet another difficult one as just over 4 years ago on October 16, 2008 I lost my identical twin sister Janine to stomach cancer. The strong bond that my twin and I shared made it a monumental task to prevent my life from coming to a total standstill.
My climbing equipment through these difficult times have been my Bible, religious books, books on twin loss and grief, the support of relatives and friends, the internet and twinless twins and twin loss groups. I have also taken quiet time to find solace in meditation, the repetition of affirmations and Yoga exercises. In addition, my career as a Freelance writer has put me in “keep on keeping on” mode. I firmly believe that whether you are a professional writer or not, writing is an important tool to use in pouring out one’s thoughts and emotions in such a situation. You can express yourself in a few words, essays, poems, articles etc. As a matter of fact, if you are good at art you can express yourself in artwork.
I am so glad that a cousin in New York suggested that I start a blog and I finally did so in March 2011. While I have shared some of the sadness and loss I have felt following the deaths of my twin sister and brother, I have found the healing process enhanced by relating the good times, wonderful memories, hobbies, interests, etc. that were a part of our lives.
Nature walks have also been very uplifting whether I saw an awesome skyscaper, flowers, birds, etc. My interest in photography has deepened tremendously so I always have my digital camera ready at hand. Sitting and looking at some of these sights help me to experience a sense of peace.
My brother Sutcliffe died only 3 years after my twin sister and this made me slide lower than where I had reached in my upward climb out of the valley. The minute December arrived I felt a level of trepidation. I struggled as to whether or not I could decorate this past Christmas. I looked in an area where I had some decorations and even took some shots of my favourites to display on my blog. Nevertheless, up to a few days before Christmas, it seemed as if my living-room would not even have one decoration. Suddenly, I decided to have what I called a special memory table. I placed photo frames that carried pictures of Sutcliffe and Janine on the centre table in our living-room. After that, I decorated it with many decorations that were our favourites and two red candles. Just before 6 p.m. I lit them in memory of Sutcliffe and Janine.
Over the years, I have lost my father, twin sister and brother. While I will always miss them dearly these words of Philippians 1:3 sum up my love for each of them – “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”
About the Author: I am a Jamaican Freelance Journalist who holds an Honours Diploma from the London School of Journalism. I have had articles published in national publications including Jamaica’s Daily Gleaner newspaper and international publications including Grief Digest and Twins Magazine. I have a Blog titled Judy H-J’s Thoughts – A Twinless Twin.