A curious absence
What a couple of weeks it’s been. First, on Monday 5 October, visiting Broadcasting House to record a BBC podcast with members of the Ouch team and guests who, like myself, are on one side or the other of the disabled/non-disabled sibling divide. Then, on Wednesday 7 October, World Cerebral Palsy Day, the launch of my Twitter account @egesq. Monday 12 October brought a mad scramble for a picture to accompany my guest post to the Ouch team’s blog, which saw the light of day in the early hours of Wednesday 14 October. And of course, the 15th – the dreaded Ides of October – was 19 years since Jenny died in that fire.
Strange then, that even with me talking about Jenny publically for the first time since 1996, I haven’t dreamt about her during these past two weeks. Nor did the slow, painful process of writing her memoir over the last few years spark any dreams. Some authors are very frank about their subjects entering their dream life. I’m thinking particularly of Simon Garfield’s Mauve, a biography of William Perkin, inventor of the first synthetic colour.*
Garfield writes that ‘predictably’ he dreamt of Perkin a few times. He thought it was as if Perkin was somehow trying to communicate with Garfield through his dreams. Among the strange information conveyed was the horrendous state of his century-old grave. The madder (dye plant) planted at his grave had pushed its way through his coffin, and effluent from the dye factory, together with coal and rocks was tormenting him so much that he felt like ‘one long bruise’.
A bonanza for psychoanalysts, all these distortions and hidden messages making themselves known to the writer in his sleep.
What puzzles me is that since Jenny’s death, she features in neither this ‘surreal puzzle’ type of dream, which I’d rather enjoy; nor in nightmares, which I’d fully expected given the circumstances of her death. I’ve only ever dreamt about Jenny twice since she died, and both dreams were within three months of the traumatic experience.
The first was about the events of 15 October 1996. A nightmare yes, but like most of my dreams, it was a radio play with, fortunately, no visuals. It was scary enough though and, for the first time since the age of seven, I remember being nervous about going to sleep the following night in case of another instalment.
The second, and final dream about Jenny, was a much more vivid affair. She was there with me in the lounge from the previous afternoon. I was sorting through boxes of her remaining belongings to give most of them away to charity and friends. She looked at me anxiously, a puzzled expression on her face:
‘Why are you giving away my things? Don’t you think I’ll need them?’
Unfortunately the wish-fulfilment that she was still alive didn’t even outlast the dream itself and I woke up with a jolt.
So what with almost 8,000 nights’ sleep since October 1996, not to mention sly afternoon naps or dozing off in front of the telly, there certainly hasn’t been a lack of opportunity to dream about Jenny. Where she does feature it’s tangentially. For example, I’m sitting on the hideous brown 1970s sofa in my childhood home, having a massive argument with the former Editor of the BBC children’s programme Blue Peter. This programme connected Jenny and me in more ways than one.
Do twins dream about each other anyway? I can’t remember dreaming about my twin since childhood. If anything, it’s now through her very absence that Jenny is present in my dreams. Would things be different were she still alive? Impossible to say, it’s something that’ll no doubt continue to puzzle me.
* Simon Garfield, Mauve: How One Man Invented a Colour that Changed the World, London: Faber and Faber, 2000.
|BBC News: Disability – Wednesday 14 October 2015
It is 20 years since Ed Green’s disabled twin sister died but he still considers accessibility with everything he does.
Read the full article here.
BBC Ouch blog podcast – Brothers, sisters and disability
On this month’s show, presenters and guests discuss how much of an impact disability can have on relationships between disabled and non-disabled siblings.