|Louise the day she was born|
Louise was born at 11:11 on 10th April 1996, two minutes after me. We were seven weeks premature because she ate all the food, and so there wasn't enough for me (we are identical, so shared a placenta). She also used me like a trampoline, jumping up and down on me whilst we were in the womb. I guess we started off life very close together, and it got a bit cramped in there!
|Louise on left, in premature clothes|
We spent five weeks in hospital, and then our parents brought us home. We lived in Wimbledon with our Mum and Dad, who right from the beginning were determined that we would be brought up to be individuals- not just part of some 'twin package'.Mum kept separate diaries of each of our developments, and Louise did everything first. She was the first to sit up, roll over, crawl, walk, talk and die. Apart from the latter, I always copied her on the same day, just to prove that I could do it. If she could, then so could I.
|The first day we properly seemed to enjoy playing together, Louise right|
|Louise in red|
|Louise in a favorite spot!|
As we got slightly older, it became apparent that we depended upon each other. Louise was generally louder than me with a larger frame, and if we were both asked a question she would always answer it. To an extent, I let her do the talking, but if I left the room she asked, "Where Doe-Dee gone?". I think that, even though she was noisier and more bubbly, she drew her strength to be like that from me. I was her anchor in the world, as is often the case with identical twins. She was unsettled without me around, which concerned our parents who then went to great lengths to give us individual time. We went to preschool separately, and moved to a two form entry primary school so we could be in different classes. Despite this, Louise still found starting school much harder than I did, I guess because I was better at being strong than she was. She had a greater expectation that the world was there for her convenience, and that it should be nice.
Louise's school teacher asked to speak to our mum one day, and expressed concern that Louise might have a bladder problem because she kept asking to go to the toilet. When Mum spoke to Louise about it, she admitted that she didn't really need to go, but that my classroom was opposite the girls toilets. She liked looking in through the door and seeing me.
Louise was, without a doubt, my soulmate. Our mother didn't let us watch much TV, which meant we invented our own games. Most of these involved sitting in or on strange things such as book cases, suitcases, the basket at the bottom of the pram, cardboard boxes and the shopping (including the bread!). However, our most favorite game was the slightly bizarre 'Mummy Goat and Baby Goat'. This involved us running about with a skipping rope around Louise's middle and me holding on to either end. It resembled a game many young children play in which they pretend to be ponies or unicorns. I have no idea why we decided to be something as uncute as goats. She was always Baby Goat and I was always Mummy Goat. I asked to be Baby Goat once, and she said no. In truth, at the time I was very glad that she did because it would have felt wrong any other way.
|Our little brother Dan, born May 1998|
|Louise, Dan, Sophie|
Our brother Dan was born in 1998 when we were two (yes- I know I've recently talked about when we started school but chronology really isn't my strong point!). We both loved him dearly, but I was more enthusiastic about big sister duties than Louise. When asked if we were looking forward to Mummy having a baby, Louise gave a half-hearted, "yeah." In our diaries, Mum described my "Yes!" as perfect. This continued after Dan was born: whilst we both adored him to an extent, Louise occasionally said, "Mummy put the baby down." and complained about him crying. On the contrary, if Mum didn't pick Dan up the second he started to murmur I told her off, "Mummy, your baby needs you!" We let Dan join in with our games, but he couldn't break into the bubble that we occupied. When we were Mummy Goat and Baby Goat, Dan ran around after us being Kitty Oliver, seemingly unaware that we were in Bubble Land and paying no attention whatsoever to anyone but each other.
|Proof that we let Dan play- will he ever forgive me?!|
I love Louise more than I have ever loved anyone else. I also hate her with a passion that at times consumed me. This is entirely normal in an identical twin relationship and right from the start, our relationship had violent aspects to it. By no means were we vicious children, but one of our most frequent games as babies was 'Bite-My-Sister-Until-She-Bleeds'. Squashing each others faces became our way of expressing anger when we were slightly older. But interwoven into all the fighting was the knowledge that we loved each other greatly, and shared a bond that neither distance, nor time, nor death could ever break.
|Hiding in a suitcase, Louise right|
|Casually sitting in a pram basket|
I am so close to Louise that I find it hard to describe her personality, I cannot find words to adequately sum up who she is. Certainly, she was very kind. We went to a garden party once and there was no child friendly food, so we had taken a picnic. There was a little girl there who spoke only Italian, and was extremely hungry. We shared our food with her, but were unable to communicate. Despite the language barrier, Louise played naughts and crosses with her. You don't need words for things like that.
When Louise was four our Dad told her that one day she would grow up and leave home. She cried and cried, and in the end the only way that Daddy could get her to calm down was to promise her that she never had to leave, she could stay with him forever if she wanted to. One of the things that I find a great comfort now is that although Louise died, she isn't on her own. Daddy was killed in the same car accident as Louise, so she didn't go alone.
Louise's favorite colour is yellow, she has long hair and likes drawing and pretending to be a goat. She hates long walks (she used to hang off lamp posts on the way home from school saying, "I can't go any further, I need a helicopter!"). She has big blue eyes and an even bigger heart, and she is my sister. Nothing can ever change that.
On 5th April 2002 Louise died in a car accident aged 5 years and 360 days. We were going on holiday, it was a sunny day and she died on impact. If she had to die, it wasn't a bad way to go.
|Louise aged five|