When now 26-year-old identical twins, Michelle Lauren Anderson and Katherine Anderson-Hill, were just two years old when they were the victims of a massive house fire.
In an exclusive interview with People, Michelle explained that Katherine managed to escape the fire with only minor injuries, while she wasn’t so lucky. The bed Michelle was sleeping in when the blaze broke out caught fire.
While her father was able to get her out of the home alive, she had suffered third-degree burns to 90-percent of her body. It was a miracle that Michelle survived. Their mom, Linda Anderson, remembers what doctors told her during Michelle’s touch-and-go recovery:
Identical Twin Sister Says She Can See What Her Life Could Have Been Like Through Sister
“They told me that if she survived, she would have no hands and feet, maybe no arms and if she got off the ventilator, she’d be on oxygen and possibly be blind.” By the time Michelle was allowed to go home, she had undergone 25 surgeries, including skin grafts and more.
However, despite being given the OK to go home, Michelle’s recovery had only just begun. “That’s when the recovery really began. Katherine was too young, but Michelle had lost everything.”
Nonetheless, Katherine and Michelle grew even closer together over the last 24 years. And while Katherine has always been there for Michelle, Michelle admits knowing what life could have been like is hard for her.
“But having someone who looks exactly like you — but doesn’t have scars — is always a reminder of what my life would have been. She’s the life and the face I could have had.” And Katherine hates that her sister feels that way.
Katherine, also a nurse, told People, “There were times when I felt a lot of guilt seeing my sister in pain, and knowing there was nothing I could do. Every surgery was like a look back, and another time we had to relive this horrible thing… And I’d think, ‘It could have been me. Why wasn’t it me?’ It just didn’t seem fair.”
Both sisters thrived in their own respective interests, Katherine was a competitive synchronized swimmer and cello player, while Michelle, excelled as an equestrian competitor. She now uses those skills to teach therapeutic riding lessons to others.
And while they are identical twins, Michelle believes it was good for them to have their own things. “Finding our own identities is what saved our friendship. If we had done the same activities, it would have destroyed me. I would never have felt good enough because I would have always been comparing myself to her.”
Now, the twins are still doing their own things and living their own lives, but that doesn’t mean they’re not closer than ever and very happy. And that’s all they can ask for.
“To me and my family, the only choice we saw was to keep moving forward. The burn injury greatly affected all of our lives, but it isn’t all that I am or all that we are.”
Sara Vallone has been a writer and editor for the last four and a half years. A graduate of Ohio University, she enjoys celebrity news, sports, and articles that enhance people’s lives.