Our twins, M and C, have been together since inception, near each other always, except for brief stints when C was hospitalized for lung disease.
They are close in many ways; they even look enough alike that people often ask if they're identical (they're not). But since C began retreating into his own world, they began to have parallel lives. They are usually near each other physically, yet there is a distance between them as each goes about his own activities.
It's clear M and C love each other, and that gives me great hope.
Therapies began in earnest a couple of months ago, requiring C to be apart from his brother for hours at a time. The distance increased.
And now we're beginning to accept that they won't be going to preschool together next year: C will go to a school with a program that is best for his needs, and M will go elsewhere. Their days will be spent apart, and the distance will increase.
I can already envision the day when M comes home and tells us about his new best friend, someone not C. I will be happy for M; he deserves that. But I will also feel heartbroken for C, who may or may not understand what this means.
We'd always dreamed our twin boys would grow up as best friends and lifelong compatriots, two people who know each other in ways no outsider ever could; I hold out hope that will still be the case, that it's still possible.
But illness, autism, and now the school system have put a wall between these brothers, a wall I'm hoping will come tumbling down if we just work hard enough.