Several months ago I wrote about my good friend, Becky Sehenuk and her experience of losing a twin sister (Jenny) in a motorcycle accident. You can read the original post “Losing Jenny” here. For many reasons, this was difficult to write. Doing so made me realize I was largely helpless to help her. Despite every desire to somehow remove this painful experience from my friend, I had no capacity to do so. It was like watching someone you care about drown for months at a time. Despite the difficulty, I’m glad I wrote about it. It helped me understand my feelings. It helped me partially understand Becky’s feelings. After I posted the article several people commented on my blog or contacted me directly. My personal perspectives seem to have resonated with others who also felt helpless. I want to say thanks to those who openly shared their feelings. It’s obvious that Becky is loved and Jenny is missed dearly.
Shortly after her sister’s passing, I spoke with Becky about her loss. We decided to do something constructive. We wanted to honor Jenny and the huge impact she had on Becky and so many other people. We also wanted to share a little more of “Jenny” with the world and the countless friends she left behind. Initially, I was a little worried that it was too soon for Becky to commit to something so personal and painful. Becky was still in shock. I could see it in her face and hear it in her voice. Becky assured me that she wanted to move forward. She said waiting would bring a risk of losing her present perspective. Her courage was humbling.
We decided to start by capturing Becky’s thoughts and feelings. One evening we sat down with an audio recorder and began a very difficult conversation. We talked about Becky’s thoughts on becoming a “twinless twin” and life immediately following her sister’s passing. We talked about her profound pain and loss. We talked about faith and hope, favorite memories and family. We talked for a long time. It was a raw conversation – the kind that comes from the heart.
We agreed that visually capturing aspects of Becky’s life would also be beneficial. For several months I photographed Becky at her home, work, church and many places in between. We talked about “the project” often. Sometimes, however, weeks would go by and we would hardly mention it. That’s not to say we weren’t thinking about it, it’s just that emotional intensity is a hard thing to live with full time. Each time I called Becky to make arrangements to shoot more images, I knew my call was a painful reminder of her deepest loss. It was always difficult for me to call and ask, but even more difficult for Becky. Unselfishly, she always made accommodations for my requests. She was committed to honoring Jenny.
After many months and countless conversations, we combined segments of our recorded conversation with photographs taken along the way. I struggle with providing a definition for what we ultimately produced. I guess you could say it’s a presentation, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a tribute to Jenny and the relationship she shared with Becky. It’s deeply personal. It’s honest and revealing. It is, one woman’s candid and vulnerable expression of loss.
If you have lost someone you love, especially a twin, you are not alone. We hope this message speaks to you. By openly sharing Becky’s personal experience, we hope you feel a sense of connection and are comforted by it.
As a final thought, it would have been much easier for Becky to postpone this endeavor. It would have been easier to hide – to simply pretend she was in a dream that would eventually end. It has been a year (to the day) since Jenny’s passing and I’ve never once seen my friend hide. In the face of pain, fear and loss she remains heart-wounded, but outwardly brave. – charles mcpadden
Special thanks to Lori Davis and Glen Garcia. Music composed by Lauren Habib and Peter Habib.
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