That’s My Twin

Back in 2006, Brandon, Rhema and I (pregnant with Hope) were vacationing in Michigan after completing a military tour in Germany. At the time, we knew Rhema had some delays, but in our little family, in our isolated world, she was perfect.

After being around extended family in Michigan (particularly Rhema’s cousins), I was suddenly painfully aware of the significance of Rhema’s delays. To make matters worse, all of the changes – 6 hour time zone difference, new environment, new people – virtually sent Rhema over the edge, with all of her behaviors amplified.

I remember picking up the phone to call my twin in Boston, and in anguish, I blurted the words I had never dared to say to anyone before,
“Rhema’s acting like she’s autistic! I… I just can’t seem to reach her.”

My sister let me tell her everything. She cried with me, comforted me and told me we would do “whatever it takes” to get Rhema the help she needed.

What my sister did not say was that at that moment on the phone, she was fighting her own personal battle. She was experiencing intense pain and could no longer walk.

Looking back, I realize that pain and fear and worry were gripping us at the same time, but I had no idea what she was going through. After she hung up with me that day, she called my mother and told her I needed her. Then my sister – a young mom herself – managed to get herself to an emergency room. There she was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis).

Later I asked her, “Why didn’t you tell me? We talk everyday, we share everything. Why didn’t you tell me? Her response: “I was too worried about you. I didn’t want you to worry about me.”

That’s my twin.

Last year I was visiting her in the hospital. Feeling completely helpless I started writing out Bible verses on paper and posting them all over her room. She got a call on her cell phone from a friend who had just ended a relationship. For an hour, my sister comforted her and dispensed dating advice, all the while managing her pain and being poked and prodded by nurses. Finally, I heard her friend on the phone ask, “So what are you up to?”
My sister lightly and casually responsed, “Ohhhh, I’m hanging out at the hospital for a few days…”

That’s my twin.

She has tough days, but never once have I heard her complain or say “Why me?” (as compared to me who wails Why! on a continual basis!).  Today she is going for an MRI. These are always difficult for her. She has to get injected with dyes to illuminate her brain and spine. It’s painful because she has received so many infusions in the past couple of years that her veins are shot. So I’m praying today that the medical staff will be able to find a good vein! Anticipating the results of these MRIs is always emotionally draining. So I’m praying for her to have a peace that only God can give!

My sister and Rhema have a special bond, and both have already overcome so much. In two weeks, my sister will walk with us in the Greater Boston Walk for Autism Speaks. She will walk for Rhema and for all people and families affected by autism spectrum disorders.

Beautiful giver. 

That’s my twin.

Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.  Jer 17:14

24 thoughts on “That’s My Twin

  1. You’re both beautiful.

    I had reached that conclusion even before I saw your beautiful smiling faces!

    Joining you in prayers for smooth procedures today and peace in the anticipation of the results.

  2. you made me cry! argh! you are far more like her than you realize, physical aspect aside.

    you are both stunningly beautiful people that are a blessing to everyone you touch.


  3. Don’t even. You amaze us all the time with your strength and perspective and hope and gratitude. I bet if your sister blogged, she’d be writing the same thing about you.

  4. What a beautiful post — she’s a gem ( and so are you!) I don’t think I could have made it through any of our tough times without our own wonderful family and it always warms my heart to read of family bonds like the one you and your twin share. I hope today went well for her and she has my prayers that she recovers her strength quickly and has a good night of rest tonight.

    ~Michelle @ In The Life of a Child

    (P.S. Something special for you at my place 🙂 )

  5. God bless her and you today and everyday! I always say I don’t know what I’d do without my twin but she tells me the same thing! I am sure it’s the same for you both.

  6. Hi there! (I was going to write your name instead of “there”, but decided not to, in case you don’t post it on this blog for privacy reasons.)

    We used to eat lunch at the same table at AHS for a while… do you remember? I had been watching my old graduation video and got to thinking about high school, and did a search on you and your sister’s names… first I found an excerpt from your book (I wasn’t sure it was really yours, but it did mention a *twin* which was rather coincidental), and then found your video about Rhema, and your blog. It was really surprising to find you have a blog!

    I have been living in South Carolina since 1990… went to college and then got a job in a software company. I’ve been doing well.. Anyway it was great finding this, and being able to read and hear how you’ve been doing. You have had quite a challenge with your kids… they look sweet and I hope Rhema keeps improving.

    Yvette M.

  7. What a beautiful expression of your sister’s Christ-like character! What an incredible blessing to have a twin. (When I was pregnant with Katy, I had hoped for twins!)

    Thank you for sharing her with us.

  8. I love your words Neally, continue to allow God to use you. I am praying in agreement with you for the healing of our dear sister Nay.

    Love ya,

  9. I’m in tears and God must be smiling at his two beautiful, amazing daughters. Your family is so precious and truly has endured sooooo much. I am still excited with what God is doing in all of this.
    “O Lord, how great or Your works! Your thoughts are very deep.” Ps 92:5
    We have no idea what God has in store for your entire family. If my mind and spirit can conceive that it’s going to be huge, truly only God knows how deep this blessing is going to be!

    I can’t thank you enough for sharing even glimpses of your life’s song. It’s a bigger blessing than you’ll ever know.

    Gorgeous picture by the way!

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