This is my older sister, Jessica. She’s eleven months my senior and truly believes that I am to do and listen to every single thing she says. I, however, think differently and usually tell her to shut up because I’m the “smart one” of the family, a title I received based on the fact that I have only been married once and all of my children have the same father.
My sister is a real douche and a know it all, but in comparison her life has sucked even worse than mine has and so she holds a strange place in my heart.
A little back story on Miss Jessica:
When I was beaten and put into a coma by my father, social services stepped in and removed me and Jess from my parents care. I was taken directly from the hospital and she was removed from our home. After a short stay in foster care she was sent back to my mom while my dad was in jail for the assault on me. My mother had attended some parenting classes and was doing much better although I’d wager to say that it was more the fact that my dad was absent than it was the classes. She was a much better mother when she wasn’t fearing for her life every day.
I never returned to my mom, though, because the beatings had left me so badly broken that they didn’t think I should ever return because the mere sight of anything having to do with my house or the people I knew could be traumatizing. So, I went to foster care where for the next couple of years my mother and my sister spied on me from a distance… my mother even being ballsy enough to once approach us in a grocery store and give me a piece of candy. My sister has, in later years, told me of her jealousy that my mother insisted they follow me around and watch my house. She was eleven months older… five years old.
Eventually, my dad returned from prison and my mom went back to being scared to death and my sister went back to being molested by him. It didn’t take long for her to be removed from the house and she was eventually adopted by another family.
Her family life growing up was, according to her, quite abusive. At 13, she ran away, located our biological father and moved in with him. I have no idea why she did this and it didn’t end well. For the next two years he raped her over and over again and threatened to kill her if she told anyone. She told her step mom, my dad’s new wife, and the step mom turned the other way.
Fortunately, my sister had some very solid evidence of this when she finally found the place inside of her she needed to be brave enough to go to the police. My father had sexually brutalized her and left her a gift: an STD that later developed into cancer.
My dad went back to jail and my sister went back home where her cancer went untreated because they didn’t know she had it. Prior to her radiation therapy, she met a guy she fell in love with and had a baby… a little girl named Elizabeth. She and her now husband and her daughter lived uncertainly for a few years. They got along well, but his mother and my sister did not get along and, one day, while Jessica was at work, her mother in law picked up Elizabeth at the sitters and never returned.
My sister went crazy. After three months of searching for her daughter, her husband finally confessed that the child was in Mexico and that he had signed over their parental rights to his mom. She was devastated and contacted everyone to try to get the child back but no one would help her because he had forged her signature and the Mexican government would not do anything about it. She has never seen her again and to make matters worse, her husband left her, moved to Mexico and now gets to spend every day with the child whom he raises with his sister. It was outrageous.
It was during this time that my sister found out she had cancer and radiation therapy was started. She had two jobs and was undergoing chemotherapy, had no car and lived on her own and did all of this as she fought to get her daughter back. Somehow, she beat the cancer but was told that she would never have children again.
Jessica met and fell in love with a soft spoken guy named Sony. He’s from Thailand and his name isn’t really Sony, but that’s what everyone calls him. In fact, I don’t even know his real name. He has always been very kind to me, not like her asshole ex husband was as he almost always sounded tanked when I spoke to him. Sony was far more gentle and very polite. When I met him, he kissed my hand and held doors open for me and marveled at how much Jess and I look alike. He joked that he was afraid he’d go home with the wrong sister. He is funny and silly and sweet. And, he’s a good father to the little girl he had with his wife, my sister.
They never thought they would have children after her treatments. She was told it would never happen. And then, she got pregnant. It was a miracle and she was so overjoyed and rushed to change everything and do everything right. The loss of Elizabeth had her obsessing over the baby and she ran straight to the doctor the minute her home pregnancy test came back positive.
A week after I got the excited call from her that she was expecting, I got another call. A very different one.
Nurse: Hello, is this Kyra?
Me: Yes…. this is her. (I hear madness in the background… someone screaming.)
Nurse: My name is Rebecca and I’m an obstetrical nurse here at the ________ medical center. I have your sister in here and she isn’t doing too well and had asked me to call you. I’m hoping you can help me calm her down.
Me: Oh my god… is the baby okay?
Nurse: The baby is fine but your sister has HIV.
Me: Excuse me? What did you say? (My chest had gone strangely hard when she said this and everything so much louder.)
Nurse: She has HIV. At her initial exam we drew blood to do a CBC and her HIV test came back positive. Needless to say, she is in hysterics.
Ah. The screaming. It was very clear at that point what I was hearing.
Me: Let me talk to her.
The nurse put my sister on the phone and I did everything I could to simply get her to the point where her sobs and hiccups could be deciphered into words that I could understand. It look a very long time for her to get any words to begin with and once she did, they were very uninformative anyhow. What could she say? Here were the facts: She was pregnant and she had HIV. And… she was terrified. In about ten minutes time she went from being elated to be having a miracle baby to being scared for her life, scared for her husband’s life and scared for her baby’s life. All of a sudden, any future for any of them was an uncertainty.
To my disbelief, Jessica only allowed herself a few days to be frightened. And then, she got focused on having a healthy baby. Sony was tested and came up negative… something awesome and mind blowing at the same time. Her baby was safe so long as she was in utero and my sister held tight to that, started taking her medicine, researched her delivery options and kept herself as healthy as possible. She had HIV but more importantly, she had a lovely baby girl to keep safe and to take care of and this is what she focused on.
She and her team of doctors all agreed that a bloodless c-section was best for the birth and so my sister had one scheduled. No blood could come into contact with the baby in order to keep her safe. The day of the c-section, I sat all day by my phone and when it finally rang there was the voice of an exhausted new mother on the other line. Not someone who had HIV and not someone scared and bitter. Just the sound of a breathless mama and an excited daddy.
In order to keep Jess from tearing even a little bit during her surgery, they had to cut her all the way across her abdomen like a great, big, menacing grin in the middle of her body. In the next two weeks, she would be re-stapled three times when her belly split back open. As painful as all this was, it was no distraction for her from the adorable, healthy, HIV free baby she was staring at.
Madison is about a month younger than Olivia and they met for the first time in Las Vegas. Two cousins only different in appearance but both of them healthy and loved very, very much. This baby born under crazy circumstances and against all the odds is now two years old and still testing negative for HIV. My sister takes her medicine and sits back and marvels at what she had a chance to create.