In encouraging my students to read—a never-ending quest—I often observe that whenever I begin to think I’m pretty smart, I re-read a bit of A Brief History Of Time, by the late Stephen Hawking. It quickly disabuses me of the notion I pretty much have it all figured out. So does this story:
Lexi and Sydney Stark, who were born on March 9, 2001, conjoined at their spines, are medical miracles. Researchers at the University of Maryland estimate that 40 to 60 percent of conjoined twins are stillborn. And just 35 percent survive beyond their first day. But the sisters overcame difficult beginnings — including a risky separation surgery at seven months old — and are now 17 and preparing to enter their senior year of high school. [skip]
The Colorado-based mom and dad questioned their decision to proceed with a risky separation surgery. The operation carried the risk of paralysis. But according to a 2001 CBS News story, shortly after the 11-hour procedure, the twins were moving their legs.
‘The room just exploded, you could hear that ‘Woohoo! Two babies,’ Emily shared on Monday. ‘We got the fairytale. We know the ending, so far.
Considering that alone, it’s a remarkable and uplifting story. As much as we might complain, we live in wondrous times. Human beings have developed the knowledge and skill to successfully separate conjoined twins. But this is not, by far, the most wondrous, and mysterious, aspect of this story:
Though Lexi and Sydney are no longer physically connected, they can feel each others pain. ‘I’ll be upset and I’ll be wondering why. Then she’ll come home and say she had a bad day and I’ll be like, ‘Ah, there it is,’ Sydney explained.
When the two share a bed, their bodies have a way of ending up in the same position they were when they were conjoined at the spines. ‘Yeah we call it the ‘conjoined-twin position,’’ Lexi quipped. Added Emily: ‘It’s usually when they’re stressed.’
According to Lexi, Sydney’s touch has a way of soothing her. ‘Just being by her, putting my head on her,’ she revealed, ‘it’s so calming.
There are similar tales of the bonds between even normal twins, including twins separated at birth and reunited as adults who discover parallels in thought, action, marriage, and every other aspect of their lives. Some twins separated at birth, not knowing they were a twin until reunited in adulthood, report they spent their lives, until that moment, feeling “incomplete.” In such cases, we are in awe of the miracles, but if we’re wise, we’re humbled.
One can explain away such things. That “incomplete” feeling didn’t manifest until they knew they had a twin, or all of the mystical connections are just the brain compensating for a variety of stresses. We have, in a scant few centuries, advanced so far. Science has led us to discoveries unimaginable only a short time ago, and promises to continue our advancement. Yet, is everything knowable through science?
If we take a moment to contemplate the nature of faith, the ineffable majesty of God and His creation, we should realize we know so little of human nature, of ourselves and those we love. Science is absolutely necessary, but it explains only what it can conceive and measure. In “climate science,” we appear to be regressing. How can we know the secrets of existence, and of the universe?
Lexi and Sydney Stark feel each other’s pain—from a distance. Science can’t measure or explain that, and that’s OK. Some things, we have to take on faith—and revel in the wonder of it all.