My little granddaughter keeps bringing me her toys to borrow. Yesterday it was her Jack in the Box. The day before that it was a basket full of Fisher-Price barnyard animals, with a few plastic Easter eggs thrown in for good measure. The way her little face lights up with her latest offering makes it impossible to say no. So add to the general mess in my room one Jack in the Box, one basket full of barnyard animals, various kids’ books, etc. The way she keeps bringing me her toys makes me think she senses the littles in my system, even if she doesn’t know what it is she’s responding to.
Last evening she was in my room briefly, and walked out “reading” Henry & Beezus, Jenny’s book. I wanted to snatch it out of her hands, but didn’t. Then I felt bad for Jenny that I didn’t stand up for her. But I knew my granddaughter would be going to bed soon, and I could take it back then. So what did I do after getting it back? Promptly forgot all about reading Jenny a chapter.
The other day when digging in my purse at the store for change, I came up with 4 pennies and a plastic toy soldier. I stared at it with incomprehension until my cousin snickered and nudged me. No one else noticed anything, but it bugged me. Bugged me all the way home that at my age I’m still finding barbie doll shoes and toy soldiers in my purse. That my granddaughter sees in me something childlike and finds it the most natural thing in the world to offer me her toys. (She doesn’t do that with anyone else.)
To be a multiple in a world of singletons is just plain bizarre. There are things in the “real” world I must attend to every day. All the while I’m living a completely different reality inside my head, which is every bit as real to me. Trying to keep everything in sync is exhausting, as every multiple knows. And always, in the back of my mind, is the thought that if things get too difficult, there is always that door marked Suicide. I don’t contemplate it much, for therein lies madness. But it’s there, slightly ajar, beckoning when I need to cry and won’t allow my tears to flow. There is a constant fear that if I ever gave in to them, I would spend the rest of my days and nights weeping like a forlorn child, curled up in a corner.
To wish I were different—a singleton like most of the population—is futile. How can I even imagine such a reality that is so foreign to my life experiences? This is how my life has worked itself out, and I can no more wish for “normality” than I could wish for wings to fly. My granddaughter runs through the house flapping her arms, trying intently to fly. She runs up to me and complains, “Nana, I keep trying but I just can’t fly!” I smile at her intensity while admiring her perseverance. I know that in this case, her perseverance will not pay off. She will never fly, except when she’s on an airplane. And I, I will never know another kind of reality but multiplicity. For better or worse, this is my lot in life. And I hardly know whether I should feel stifled, short-changed and cheated, or consider myself fortunate to be here at all.
These are the early morning rambling of a multiple. I wrestle daily with these kinds of thoughts, knowing even as I do that things are what they are, that there are no easy answers or neatly tied up loose ends. I can think of many fates worse than multiplicity, and the realization that things could be worse will have to be consolation enough.