Author: Darla Grese
When you’re a twin, loneliness is somewhat unfamiliar because you’ve always had each other. So when a twin passes, the other is left unprepared. Our loyalty was steadfast and our devotion to one another, solid. Our love was unconditional no matter what the circumstances. I’m so grateful every day for the memories of the joy and laughter that we shared together. I know the bond that Kelli and I shared is impossible for anyone to replace.
This memoir has become something so much more than initially intended. It’s become a documented journey barely scratching the surface of the love between two sisters. And surprisingly, it’s also become an outlet for me to speak candidly and honestly about my struggles with the cause of Kelli’s death. This is a love story turned tragedy. An exposure of one of the greatest healthcare failures killing Veterans and civilians, and a cry for help to remedy the fiasco.
I’ve stressed about who I would mention in this book, nervous that I would hurt someone’s feelings by not mentioning their names. But I’ve realized that it’s impossible to do. Kelli had so many great friends, some I’ve never even met.
I need each person to know who has taken the time to reach out to me in whatever capacity that if it weren’t for your heartfelt show of support and love, I don’t know that I would be able to muster the energy to even get up each day. Kelli, we did it.
Darla M. Grese is a twin sister who lost her better half to side effects from prescribed medication. As a U.S. Navy Veteran, she is an advocate of Veteran X and Veteran Hope programs that address mental illness, PTSD, and unintentional addiction issues. Both programs are sponsored by the Veteran Affairs Medical Center and focus on Veteran recovery and independence. She raises money for Team Kelli and annually participates in the Out of the Darkness Walk at Mt. Trashmore in Virginia Beach (http://www.sos-walk.org/sos/). While continuing to bring awareness to this cause, being a loving parent is her favorite passion and the main focus of her life. Darla’s love for the arts has been expressed as a talented actress with appearances in The F.B.I. files, The New Detectives, Diagnosis Unknown, Wicked Attraction, Discovery Channel’s The Haunting, and the movie Atlantis Down. She currently works full time as a respiratory therapist at a trauma center in Norfolk, Virginia.
Growing up, I never envisioned a future without my sister next to me, I couldn’t. Life without Kelli would never make sense. Why did it have to be this way? Why Kelli?
And now I’m left with emotions that I’m not sure what to do with, struggling with a naked aloneness. An identical twin is the security blanket we all long for, a lifelong being of lasting love and friendship. To have that abruptly taken away can rattle you to the core.
I am inviting you on a journey of disturbing twists and turns, riddled with circumstances that bind the soul. The events that take place are not for the fainthearted nor the weak. At the same time it’s a memoir and a promise, a promise that I made to my identical twin sister Kelli embodied with laughter, heartache, transformation, and triumph. It is just missing the right ending.
Our lives were enmeshed into one, something that never changed, that would last forever. That’s what we knew, and it’s how we preferred it to be. Sure we fought like any other siblings, at times wanting to beat the pulp out of each other. But at the end of each and every day, we laid in bed, one of us in the daybed and the other in the trundle next to it and we talked, and talked, and talked some more. We ended each day talking to each other just as we continued to do for the rest of our lives until Kelli’s life ended. I miss those conversations, I miss her voice.