I first read an account of the loss of Timothy’s twin brother Nicholas many years back when I first started this group. It came in an envelope sent to me full of copies of old newspaper articles and other interesting twin loss information that had been collected together. Timothy had done an interview for a newspaper in England back in 1989 to coincide with the first meeting of a group of surviving twins which would become The Lone Twin Network which still exists today. I was fascinated and touched by his story of losing his twin. He and a family group were on board the Shadow V which was blown up by the IRA in August of 1979 killing his grandfather Lord Mountbatten, his grandmother, a young boy helping on the boat that day and significantly, his own twin Nicholas. His parents and himself were left badly injured. This was the first account I had read of someone who had lost his twin after spending their early years together. It gave me a beautiful picture of their life together as twins before that fateful day. Until then I only had known the experience of loss around the time of birth. In this book, Timothy himself had a similar experience when he met another lone twin for the first time (who in the end became his best and closest friend). David had lost his twin a little later in life and shared, to Timothy’s fascination, about how their lives had gone on to become more separate due to their changing lives and that intrigued Timothy who had only known twinhood to be two lives lived in parallel. He had never spent more than a few days apart from Nicky in his whole life. He wondered what would have it been like had they been able to carry on into this phase of life until them.The article was written some 10 years after the tragedy and as I read the book, it was clearly only the early days of recovering from this loss.
The setting was in Ireland, a place that the family loved and enjoyed for holidays year after year but after the bombing, most of the family found the idea of returning so very hard. Timothy on the other hand felt that one day, he would have to come back and find peace and healing there and so this book traces the history leading to the event and then the 25 years following when Timothy began to piece his life together without his twin Nicholas. Timothy had been badly injured and was not aware of Nicholas’s death until three days after the accident. He had not been able to attend the funeral in England and he had never said goodbye to Nicky in the way he would have liked. To go back to Ireland and explore the places and the people and relive in a way such a painful event, brought amazing healing to Timothy.
I found this book to be one of the most powerful and touching twin loss accounts I have ever read and would be helpful to anyone on a grief journey to understand how in the most tragic loss one can discover healing and how one man managed this.
Timothy writes: I finished my paperwork and walked into the bathroom. I was squeezing toothpaste onto my brush when I looked into the mirror and saw my face for the first time since seeing Nicky’s in the photographs. We were still identical and I broke down utterly. It was exactly the release I needed.
If my own children ever suffer bereavement when still young, I will urge them, once they are ready, actively to mourn. If it is what they want, I will encourage them to grapple with trauma in close up and slow motion and from every angle they desire until the box of unresolved grief unlocks for them. This is no prescription for good recovery and for some people it might be the opposite of what they need. But for me it provided more than therapy, it was liberation.
For me, this book was gripping from the very first pages and I was so glad to have found a quiet weekend to read uninterrupted.