Sunday, May 26, 2013

Our Journey Northward for Early Memorial Day Commemoration

My brother and I left at what is for me the crack of dawn (6:30 a.m.) to travel to Benicia, California. Benicia is in located Solano county, which is in the north portion of the eastern San Francisco Bay region, or the east portion of the north bay region. One of those two is right. I'm just not sure which one.  I believe Benicia was our state's first capital, or at least it was a state capital somewhere along the way.  It's just over a bridge from Contra Costa County in the bay area.  It's the place where our parents lived when our older twin brothers were born and died. Matthew and I never lived in Benicia.

We went there to place flowers on the combined grave sites of our twin brothers who did not survive infancy. Nicholas lived  for just a few minutes. Christopher made it for a few days before it became apparent that medical science was only postponing the inevitable, and my parents made the gut-wrenching decision to pull the plugs and stop medical intervention.

Matthew and I  had purchased daisies, tulips, and a single white rose for each brother yesterday. My mom always puts a single white rose on each side of the  grave in addition to whatever else she puts there. Our neighbors gave us dahlias and some pretty bluish purple flowers called anemones, along with hollyhocks, daffodils, and some pretty bluish-purple flowers called delphinium. We had a nice assortment.

We had brought basic gardening tools and cleaning products because we weren't sure what we'd find, but the place in general, and our brothers' section in particular, had been cared for very well. We did polish the gravestone and we distributed the flowers. We put a tiny American flag  on each side of the combined headstone. Our mom's family is somewhat military-oriented, with her dad and brothers all having been Air Force Academy grads.  We figure that among the four of us, had the other two lived, statistically speaking, one  of us would have gone into the military. Since it obviously wasn't Matthew or me, it would have been one or the other of them.  We haven't figured out which one it would have been, so we always give them both American flags.

We lingered a little longer at the grave site than we normally do. We talked about how things might have been - what it would have been like to have grown up with two older brothers -- what it might have been like to have grown up with  an older brother or two who might have faced serious disabilities as a result of their extremely early births had they survived. We even talked about how our parents might have stopped at two had they been blessed with healthy babies on their first try.  Life is a total roll of the dice in some regards, and one never knows how things will turn out no matter how painstakingly plans have been made.

This may be one of our last few trips here together with just the two of us.  Matthew has ruled out any possibility of pro baseball, which is a good thing, as he might have spent a year in rookie league and another year in single A league at most, but ultimately it would have led him nowhere. Medical school is a safer place on the roulette wheel on which to place his wager. We don't know where medical school might take us in a year or so. We're assuming we'll both probably be admitted somewhere in the U.S. I'll go one year earlier than Matthew, most likely.  In any event, we have only another year or so where we'll likely be living close enough to each other to make this trek together.

Then comes the issue of significant others. I'm in no huge hurry to marry either the guy who had my name tattooed on his arm or anyone else, but at some point within the next five years or so,  I  may feel differently. Matthew changes girlfriends the way normal people change their underwear, but one of these times, the next one will be THE one.  We'll still be twins with our special bond and womb-mate status, but it will be different. Depending upon our locations and situations, we may visit our brothers as a threesome or foursome, or we may each make the trip separately with our eventual significant others, or maybe even alone.

It was bittersweet, knowing a long-standing tradition is nearing its end. Something we have been doing more or less on our own since we were old enough to persuade someone other than our parents to drive us will happen possibly as few as  two more times.

Life moves forward for those of us who are lucky enough to be alive.


  1. How wonderful. I hope you continue the tradition, no matter where life takes you.

  2. I think it's very touching that you and your brother visit your brothers' grave site. I'm sure that if it becomes impossible to continue the tradition, you will still remember them in a special way.