Friday, June 12, 2009

Together Forever

This post is NOT going to be a sappy, idealistic love story about a boy and a girl falling in love with another and living happily ever after.

No, this is a real life story of two people who have lived together all their lives, who have never been apart even for a second, who have grown to live with each other through all the pains, the sufferings, and the sadness of life.

This is the story of Ronnie and Donnie Galyon, two brothers who have lived together all the years of their life. Born in Dayton, Ohio on October 28, 1951. Since their birth, they have been through 57 years of life - a life filled with more than its fair share of trials and tribulations. By saving up money from their shows, the brothers have saved up enough money to retire and return to Ohio, where they will live out the rest of their days together in peace.

For those of you who have to take a long bus ride home everyday, you will know who I am talking about. For those who don't, Ronnie and Donnie are the world's oldest living set of conjoined twins and have somehow managed to get through life - a life filled with more pain and suffering than any of us will have in our lifetime.

There is something incredibly moving about the fact that despite their disability, the twins have managed to triumph over all the obstacles that life has had in store for them. In order to earn money for themselves, they had to do the only thing they could: be freakshow attractions, earning and enduring the disgust, the pity, the ridicule of their audiences; the laughs, the taunts, the sneers from passersby on the streets. I cannot even begin to imagine the willpower needed to endure that kind of pain.

Perhaps it was the fact that the brothers had each other. Perhaps, despite all the suffering that they had to go through, they knew that they could count on each other to comfort them, knew that one completely understood the other, in ways that one could not possibly imagine. Whatever the problem, they'd always be there for each other to provide that pat on the head, those words of encouragement, that warm hand on the shoulder.

But even this might have failed some times. The brothers had different likes, different personalities, different wants. They must have disagreed, must have argued, must have fought. They must have hated it - hated to be in the same place, in the same body as another. They wouldn't have been able to walk out of the room, to just walk away from it all. They'd have to face reality every time they opened their eyes, unable to run away from the fact that they would never live a normal life.

What could they do? They could have given up, could have thrown in the towel.

But they didn't. They learnt to live with each other, to help each other, to love each other, and to do things that they could not have done by themselves. They overcame all the obstacles that faced them, and eventually, through the money earned from their shows, they managed to retire with their younger brother and now reside in their hometown of Ohio.

It's a pretty well-known fact that I'm moved by the simplest of things, and this is no exception to that rule. Sometimes I wonder if my brother and I will have that kind of relationship when we grow older and leave our family. I can safely say that we're much closer than some of the siblings that we've seen out there, and we can talk to each other about embarrassing things.

There have, of course, been times when we've fought and quarrelled. I remember several particularly painful incidents when we were young, but that was a long time ago. Such conflicts are now often solved by a cry of, "HOLY SHIT FMA IS AWESOME", followed by a heated discussion of whether Ror or Edward was the better alchemist, often resulting in a toast of juice downstairs.

There are times though, when I wonder if this closeness will carry on into the working world. I often joke about earning the money while my brother helps me with the laundry, but that reality is almost definitely not going to happen. Still, it makes for a good laugh around the table now and then, and there are times when I am doubtful that this closeness will continue - the world does not have a good track record when it comes to familial relationships once you leave the family.

Ten, maybe twenty years into the future, will we still be able to drop work or play to go and help the other? Will we be able to take time off to sit down in some small cafe and talk about the latest chapter of One Piece (it should be around Chap 1023 by then), and make small talk about our lives? When we're old and withered, would we spend time to go and visit each other, and maybe have a small coffee and talk about old times?

So, my dear brother, fifty years from now, whether or not we're rich and successful or poor and destitute, whether or not we're healthy and fit or sick and dying, whether or not we're married to the love of our lives and have children or all alone in the world...let's take a vacation to Japan or Hawaii or New Zealand or Spain or some other country in the world, and sit and watch the sunset go down.

And let's always remember that no matter the physical difference between us, no matter our different personalities, no matter what our lives are like, we're connected by something that runs deeper than just the space around us. That no matter where we are, we're going to be together, forever.