Today's Guest Post for Vivianna Week comes from author Cherie Noel, author of Tian's Hero, and my adopted big sis. Here's your WARNING: This post is going to make you cry. It made me cry. So I hope you have tissue handy.
On the day that I was born, my twin brother died. There are all sorts of family stories about the hows and whys of the event, but if we cut right to brass tacks, the facts are easily understood. On March 11th of 1969 at St. Mary’s Hospital, in West Palm Beach, Florida, I was born.
*don’t ask me how this works either, but that date of birth makes me thirty-six… and holding*
I was born sometime around two am, and my very white mother (half English, half Scottish) and very NOT white father (Seminole, Black, Hispanic, Chinese, and some other kinda White that nobody can ever remember) were fighting two very different battles. George was fighting with the doctor and his nurses to withhold knowledge of my brother’s birth from my mother. The little boy had been born dead, and there was no way George wanted his beautiful white wife to know. She had been terribly, powerfully sad, and he thought this might be the final thing that pushed her beyond what she could bear.
George loved his statuesque Northern beauty, and he’d fight hell itself to keep her in his arms. She would never, ever leave him, never, not unless he put her in the ground himself, and damn sure not by her own hand. George worked for a sizeable Palm Beach County furniture store, and he rated as their best salesman hands down. George consistently out-sold every other employee, white, black—the other men claimed that George could sell an ice-box to an Eskimo, and it was true. Within a few hours his silver tongue convinced the doctor and his main nurse to falsify the birth as two separate events, one live birth and one still birth. The records were filed separately, and for eleven years, no one but the three of them would know that Nancy had given birth to two children that day.
Nancy’s fight was more immediate. She was fighting for her life. When her son was born, something tore inside and she started to bleed heavily. The boy had hung on his umbilical cord as he passed through the birth canal, and they’d been unable to slow the birth or shove him back and free him because… because of me. I was there and pushing to get out and the doctor and the nurse got busy saving me after they realized my brother didn’t survive the transition to the outer world.
Nancy started to hemorrhage, and once I was out there was no longer anything blocking the way, nothing holding pressure on the place where something had torn… her vitals dropped, and the doctor, in desperation shoved his hand and half his forearm up into her to apply pressure from both inside and out.
As horrific sounding as that may be, it saved her life.
Nancy did not regain consciousness for nearly a full day.
By then George had taken care of all the messy details of the tragedy he feared would steal his highly prized wife from him.
Eleven years later he finally confessed what he’d done. Strangely, I was neither shocked nor appalled. The knowledge that I’d had a twin settled something in me, made sense of the hollowness that had echoed through all the days of my young life. I accepted the new knowledge, and moved on.
Last Fall in New Orleans I met an extraordinary man. He writes under the name Vicktor Alexander and I’ve adopted him into my home and heart as the brother I should have always had at my side. Vicktor walks a tragically dark path through this world, and does so with enormous bravery. He laughs in the face of danger—
*realio, trulio, and it makes me want to smack the shite out of him and tell him he damn well better start learning to keep himself safe, by Golly*
—and nearly stops my heart with the sheer wonder of watching him grow into the man he was always meant to be and only kept from though a complicated tangle of bigotry, fear and inadequate support. Vicktor lives steeped in the love of his Rainbow Family now, with his fiercely protective Nieceling ever-ready to take up arms in his defense. He laughs and plays silly Egg-plant(?) games with us when someone in the family need that sort of goofy fun. He writes stories of such immediacy and pull they draw readers in by the droves. And he bleeds.
He bleeds in silent rivers of pain all the atrocities committed upon his person in the years before he found his way to his Rainbow Family. He strides forward, ever forward… but not tirelessly. Vicktor has been through the wars. He’s been told and taught and forced to believe that the ills that befall those he loves are all of his making. That if he were better or stronger or perhaps more pure of heart he could save everyone.
And so it hurts him badly when a loved one dies.
Like Justin and Mores and Joel…
The list keeps going on and on and…
So this week is a celebration. Love transcends the flimsy walls of death, you know, and often, we fill the empty and broken parts of our lives in the most unexpected ways.
Vivianna may no longer be here with us in the flesh, but the love Vic feels for her is pure and true and makes the world at large a brighter and more beautiful place. And the love that his Neiceling and I feel for him brightens our little corner of the world. We hold onto the belief that one day we will all be together, laughing and loving and playing silly Eggplant games and romping and… eh, it’s all good.
Well, not all good, but all full of love. And full of hope.
I lost a brother once.
My mother lost a son.
But the world is twisty and strange, and I found another brother. I found a niece I never knew I had. My daughter found an uncle and a cousin and today I am celebrating because there is still beauty and joy in the midst of the turmoil of the world. I am celebrating because love is never wasted and not even death destroys it.
Please, come and celebrate with me.