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Ed Yeates reportingFor the first time, formerly conjoined twins Allison and Avery Clark will celebrate Christmas this year as two separate girls, but they'll also be without their dad. F-16 crew chief Kerry Clark has been sent to Iraq.
In May this year, Allison and Avery were only a month away from separation surgery at Primary Children's Hospital. The way they were joined, at the buttocks and the very tip of the spine, was rare, but because they didn't share vital organs, the separation was less complicated than others.
In June, following separation, doctors said down the road they'll need some plastic surgery on their bottoms and monitoring of the spines to make sure they can stand up straight. The overall prognosis, though, was excellent.
It's now 182 days later, and the girls are 14 months old. This is going to be a very special Christmas because the twins are nearing their six-month mark since the separation, and Avery is getting very close to walking.
Their mom, Anna, said, "I say in a few weeks, Avery is going to take her first steps. She's close."
It's one of several big moments to come with no apparent setbacks, except one -- Dad won't be here! As an F-16 crew chief stationed at Hill Air Force Base, Kerry Clark has been sent to Iraq and will miss his first Christmas since he and Anna were married six years ago.
"I think it's going to be the hardest day of him being gone ... definitely going to try to fight back the tears," Anna said. "It's hard for the girls because they're very much in touch with their dad. They do a lot of things together."
So, come Christmas day, Anna and her daughters will spend a somewhat different and quiet Christmas. "I think just to watch the girls open their presents and their dad not to be here, it's going to be tough," Anna said.
Kerry is scheduled to return home in February of next year. Anna and family are planning a big Christmas dinner for Kerry in February, and they're going to hold back opening some presents until that special day.