By Charlotte Nisbet
An identical twin is sending her sister birthday cards and letters from beyond the grave three years after she passed away – just like the film PS I Love You.
Rachel Hoggins, now 39, lost her twin sister, Christine, in 2014 after a two year battle with an aggressive form of breast cancer.
Heartbroken, Rachel felt lost without her sister and best friend – but her twin had a surprise in store.
The mum of three has since received a memory book, a handwritten letter and three birthday cards and has been told by a close friend that ‘there’s many more to come.’
Rachel is set to receive cards up to her 50th birthday and despite dreading the day without her sister, she loves reading her personalised cards.
Each with her name ‘Rachel’ on the front, Christine has written a personalised message in each one – something that Rachel will treasure forever.
Rachel, from Rugby, Warwickshire, said: “I used to love the film P.S I Love You but now I can’t watch it without crying the whole way through.
“It’s similar to mine and Christine’s story as she sends me cards every year when it’s my birthday.
“When she first died in 2014, she wrote me a letter and a gave me a card to help me get through it.
“She also gave me a memory book half completed with memories from our lives with instruction to fill it in whenever I thought of another memory.
“That’s the type of person she was, Christine wasn’t bothered about herself, she just wanted to make sure we were all OK after she’d gone.
“The first card I received was a complete surprise but I have a close friend who I know is looking after them for Christine.
“It was my birthday last week on August 31 and I asked our friend if there’s many more to come and she said yes.
“I then asked if I’ll still be getting them when I’m 50 and she nodded.
“It’s amazing to read her words after losing her two and a half years ago.
“We always shared our birthdays so it’s a day that’s always full of tears, I just miss her so much.”
Rachel and Christine were inseparable growing up, not only did they look identical but they were also best friends.
She added: “We did everything together, we had the same friends, we spent anytime outside of work shopping or having lunch.
“I was distraught when Christine was diagnosed with breast cancer but she took it in her stride, she was so brave.
“There was only one birthday in our 35 years together that I missed because I was on holiday.
“I loved sharing our special day with her and we’d do out for dinner either as couples or with our family.
“And we’d always open our presents and cards together too.
“It has been so hard not having her at my side but I’m so lucky that she decided to write the birthday cards in advance.
“I start crying as soon as I see her handwriting, it never gets easier but I’m so thankful to the happy memories we have together.”
The birthday cards are full of handwritten messages and the front is always personalised with Rachel’s name.
She added: “I dread to think how long it took to order and write all of the cards.
“It’s a great comfort knowing I have so many more to look forward to.
“Even though I don’t enjoy my birthday as much as I used to, I do look forward to receiving her messages.”
Christine was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer when she was 34 after finding a lump in her breast.
Rachel added: “We were all shocked when she was diagnosed and even more so when she relapsed less than a year later.
“She was on her honeymoon with her partner, Ian, when her breast started to swell up.
“And this time it had spread to her bones, we were all devastated.”
Before Christine passed away, she set up Christine’s Crew to raise awareness for breast cancer.
Rachel added: “We are trying to get it set up as a registered charity but we hold fundraisers every so often in her name.
“Her memory and legacy will live on forever.”