Happy 24th, Ryane.

As I reflect over the past year and all the changes that have occurred, I can’t help but think of you, Ryane. It has been 3.5 years without you. Today marks the fourth birthday that I have to celebrate without you in the world. In some ways, it has gotten easier.

Now when I start planning for it, it is just my birthday. But when I REALLY allow myself to think about it, I remember it is OUR birthday. And that thought always makes it difficult to breathe.

Twenty-three has been good to me. I was able to save enough money to pay for my own graduate school through working at McDonald’s Corporation. I started pursuing my Master’s in Social Work. I completed my first year of studies in the program and my foundation internship all while working part-time. COVID has been difficult period, but also a time of growth. I have come to really know myself.

Something I feel I haven’t been able to do since you passed away. I was lost for a long time without you. I questioned everything about myself. I stopped being myself because I didn’t know who I was without you.

I think I am finally in a place where I know who I am, I know what I want, and I can appreciate all the love and support you gave me for 20 years of my life without it devastating me.

I wish with every part of myself that you were here.

That we could skip around the room together as our family sang to us.

That we could share a cake as we always did.

That you could enter your mid-20s with me.

It hurts to know that I will continue on without you.

I will continue to get older, only having the pictures of you as 20 or younger.

No more life experiences will be met by you.

No more beautiful creations of art.

No more singing along to songs,

or dancing in the car together.

It will all continue to be a memory.

A what if….

Well what if, Ryane?

What if you were still here?

You would have graduated with your degrees in Art and Business.

You would probably be selling your artwork quicker than you could make it.

Trying new techniques, new business strategies.

You would have traveled with us to Italy.

As each year passes, it becomes more and more difficult to predict what you would be doing right now.

And that makes me sad –

That I actually will never know who you grew up to be.

What you would have become.

How our relationship would have changed and grown.

All I know is the frozen in time Ryane at 20.5 years old.

The ambitious Ryane – tennis coach, double major, artist.

Both twins so busy we could hardly spare a phone call once a month.

Living separate lives but always attached by an invisible thread.

And now this is what happens when that thread it cut.

One is left to navigate this crazy world alone.

To redefine who she is on her own.

To struggle to go from plural to singular.

And it is a constant struggle,

Some days are better than others.

But these birthday’s….wow they are tough.

I’m sure they will be forever.

I miss you every day Ryane.

Cheers to you, and our 24th.


2 thoughts on “Happy 24th, Ryane.

  1. Nelson, as I read this today, my heart broke again all over for you and your beautiful family. Thank you for sharing your words and grief with us. I will always remember that picture your mom took of all you girls up in the tree at the farm. Happy Birthday to you both today!
    Much Love,
    Angie Disher xo


  2. You so beautifully put your thoughts and feelings into words. I cannot even fathom the loss of a twin so I won’t even compare it but I do know the loss of a sibling at 20.5yrs old. I lost my oldest brother at that same age, I was only 14. He was in same class as your Aunt Laura. Now coming up on 37 years without him I still do the what ifs and how life would’ve been so different if he were here. He was the heart of our family and took over the “man of the house” role after our parents divorce. Each year on my birthday as I age and then his birthday when he doesn’t brings sadness. I now think about him as the fun Grandpa he would’ve been and what an awesome Great Uncle he would’ve been to my grandson and it still hurts. Then I look back at all those pictures of him up to that 20.5 yrs and can only feel comfort then smile because he was always doing something crazy and just wanted everyone happy. As your twin Rayne will always be such a big part of you and the what ifs always there. I pray for the days you and your family can feel more of the comfort and happiness with her pics & memories rather than the intense pain that can follow for those years shortly after the loss. Continue your writing as it is helpful to so many. Happy Birthday Nelson and Heavenly Birthday Rayne
    Hugs and Love,
    Your Cuz,


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