Dan’s Twin, David

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David, My Twin

Click   to see large picture! Not so long ago, but longer now than before, one cold winter night I was born. A half hour later my twin brother was born. Growing up, we were always known as the twins— treated as a set, not really ever treated as individuals. David and I are mirror-image twins— that is a set of identical twins that are created when the fertilized egg splits quite late, around days 9–12. Mirror image twins have the exact same DNA as each other but have some small physical differences. Some of the differences that can often be seen are: which hand is dominant— David was a natural lefty, who was raised as a righty, I was a righty; our cowlicks and hair parts were on opposite sides; he was slightly far-sighted, and I am slightly near-sighted— but that might just be due to me getting old.

Growing up, we were very competitive with each other. We were also very close to each other. I was once asked if I had to do it all over again— being born a twin knowing I'd lose my twin at the age of 19— or be born a singleton— which would I choose. The experience of being a twin, at least for me, is something that can't be compared to anything else in the world— in getting married, or with your friends, those are choices you make— having a twin is a state of being— once a twin, always a twin.

One of the funnier stories I have from growing up as a twin is when his girlfriend called the house one day. I was on the first floor, and David was on the third floor, and we both picked up the phone and answered it at the exact same moment. We then decided to hold a conversation with his girlfriend as if just he had answered the phone— without any prior planning or discussion. For almost ninety minutes, he start a sentence and I'd finish it, I'd start a sentence and he'd finish and his girlfriend never noticed. Towards the end of the conversation, she had said something that had to do with me, and had asked David to promise not to tell me— I, in my role as David, promised I wouldn't tell myself what we had talked about. The whole thing came to light a few weeks later when a group of us were out and I had said something to another friend that was peripherally related to my brother’s conversation with his girlfriend. She asked him if he had told me about it— and after confronting him, figured something was going on— so she finally got what had happened out of him and she knocked him to the ground, sat on his stomach and started beating her fists on his chest. My brother, who was trying not to laugh, was just getting into more and more trouble, and the rest of us were laughing about it. He finally asked why she was beating on him and she said, "Because you're my boyfriend, and you're supposed to protect me from s*** like this."

In September of 1987, my twin brother was going to drive back to school— he was majoring in mechanical engineering out at the University of California, San Diego. I had my suitcase in his car and had airline tickets waiting for me in San Diego, as I was going to ride shotgun on his trip to California. After a long discussion, he convinced me not to go with him. His reasoning was pretty sound, I had been out of school on a medical leave, and the week of his trip was my first chance to register for classes and return to school.

It was a sunny Friday morning, the 18th of September, when David got in his 1968 Mach1 Mustang and drove off for San Diego. I told him to call me when he got home— a phone call I never got.

That night, I awoke— drenched in a cold sweat and screaming— from a terrifying nightmare‚ one of bright lights swinging through the dark, tires and brakes squealing and sounds of metal tearing. The sensation of being flipped over and over was very strong. I knew that David was in trouble— that something very bad had happened to him. The most frightening thing was that the little voice in the back of my head— that normally told me how David was, what he was doing, what he was feeling— had gone eerily silent. Instead of knowing what was going on with him, there was a vast silence that has not left me to this day. I couldn't get back to sleep. It wasn't until I read the accident report, a few months later, that I realized my waking up from the nightmare was when the accident actually occurred.

A few hours later, the telephone rang, and I heard my father speaking in a quiet voice. A few minutes later, he came up the stairs and into my bedroom. As he turned on the lights, I said, "What happened to Dave, I know something happened to him." My father told me the Tennesee State Police had called— David had been hit by a drunk driver and was in the hospital. He didn't know anything else. David was declared dead a few hours later.

The journey I have been on, since David’s death, has not been an easy one. It took almost four years before I would answer my own phone— expecting it to be David, saying that he had finally gotten home, and knowing that it never would be. There is so much more of this journey that I want to share, but don't yet have a way to put into words. I also never expected that anyone’s death would ever be as a significant event in my life— I was wrong.