who hated being a twin.
"Can you, " she once asked me, "imagine anything worse than seeing yourself across the breakfast table every morning?"
Yes, she was an identical twin and that probably made it even harder for her. She did not have the personality to share her intimate life with anyone. She did marry and even had three sons but, despite all that, she was always an unhappy woman. There was almost no contact between herself and her twin.
My father's godson on the other hand revelled in being an identical twin. He and his brother spent their childhood getting into mischief - much of it the sort of mischief that only identical twins can get up to. His death has had, and will continue to have, a lasting effect on his brother.
I know other twins and even a set of triplets. They seem to be coping with sharing their intimate world fairly well. There does not seem to be any more than the usual sibling rivalries. I also know people who think it would be great fun to be a twin. (I beg to differ there. I am not sure that two of me would be a good idea for the world.)
There was also a piece in the paper this morning about a family which now has identical triplets - the odds of that occurring are high so it makes for the sort of human interest story the media loves to call "news". The girls will have to grow up observing two more of themselves over the breakfast table. How well they manage that will be largely up to their parents.
There was also an article about missing persons in the press this morning. There are an extraordinary number of people who go missing every year - over 7000 in this state alone. Most are, apparently, found again within a week but some disappear for much longer and still others are never found.
I only know of one case of a "missing" person. He walked out of the family home over thirty years ago. He clearly intended to do so because he took some possessions with him. His small bank account was used. He had somehow obtained a passport and he simply left the country. Nobody knows where he is or what he is doing. His mother, whom I sometimes see, is still bewildered as to why he did it. Most people do not find it hard to understand. He did not feel loved or wanted.
His is probably an extreme case. Many people who do go missing are loved and wanted and their disappearance causes extreme distress. News stories about missing people usually concentrate on the family - and the distress the missing person is causing by their actions. We are almost always given the impression that the missing person is behaving selfishly, that all they needed to do was talk their problems through - and that there was no need to leave without informing people they intend to do so.
I doubt it is as simple as that. I wonder if they feel so suffocated by family life that all they can think of is finding some space for themselves. I wonder if they feel afraid of staying - and afraid of going too. Do they see their act as selfish - or as some sort of survival mechanism?
I wonder if any of them are twins - and whether they feel the need to be individuals.