My twin sister Samantha and I always celebrated our birthdays together. As kids, we would have one cake but separate presents.
As adults, we would get together for dinner, and if we weren't able to get together on our birthday, we would always call each other.
On Nov., 13, 2001, I marked my birthday without her, the first time in our 36 years as twins. My sister was a civilian employee at the Pentagon, a budget analyst for the Department of the Army. The first birthday without her was as hard as anyone can imagine, and I do not look forward to future ones. My mother thought we should do something, so I celebrated for Samantha and my mother. I don't like to think about our birthday now.
My sister and I started working for the government together, when we were still in high school. At one point in the early eighties, we worked in the Pentagon together. Then she transferred to another federal facility, and I left the government to work in private industry. Samantha eventually returned to the Pentagon.
Several months before the attacks, I began experiencing strange feelings when I would drive past the Pentagon. About a month before the attack, I had a vision of something hitting the Pentagon. I believe now it was God preparing me.
I was at home when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. By the time I arrived at work the second plane had hit in New York. I went to the cafeteria to get something for breakfast when I remembered the vision I'd had a month earlier. I actually said to someone, "What if they hit the Pentagon"? Just as I said it, a man came from around the corner and said, "They just hit the Pentagon." I rushed to the television in my office cafeteria, but all I can remember seeing on television was chaos. It's just a blur to me now.
I rushed to try to call my sister at the Pentagon, but the phones were dead. I finally got her voice mail, but I did not reach her. That was the last time I was ever able to get through to her work phone. Our company closed for the day, and I went home. I spent the rest of the day making phone calls to the hospitals, searching for my sister. The news announced that the streets in D.C. were blocked off. I could not make it into the city.
Later that day, I finally arrived at my parent's home. We waited to hear from Samantha. My brother rode his bike to area hospitals searching for her. My father joined my brother, and together they both continued to search the hospitals.
My mother and I stayed at the house with Samantha's two children. We called her co-workers' families, who had also not heard from their loved ones. We feared the worse, but I kept holding onto faith and hope.
In the days following, flowers were delivered to my parent's home. I was angry at these offerings of condolences. I resented them. I did not want to accept that my sister was dead until and unless the Army confirmed it.
It is 11 months later now, and it is still unbearably painful to think of the tragedy and losing Samantha. I called her Sennea. It was a nickname dating back to childhood. I think I came up with it so that her name would rhyme with mine.
Sennea was funny and jovial. She made me laugh. She was more adventurous than I was. She was extroverted, while I was introverted. I am not much of a talker. She liked to talk and meet people.
My sister and I were inseparable. She was my matron of honor in my wedding, and I would not have had it any other way. Sennea was my twin for 36 years, and as far as I'm concerned, she is still my twin, my sister, my best friend, no matter where she is. My sister was a devout Christian, and I know she is with God and I will see her again. My parents are caring for her children. I know that God is watching over us all, and his strength is keeping my family going. I am proud of Samantha, and I know her death was not in vain.
My twin and I...we have a bond that is strong through tragedy and death.