(Sorry, I know it's long, but I enjoyed writing it, so please stick with it!)
I remember the day I graduated from high school quite vividly:
It was at Red Rocks, scorching hot outside, and all 400 or so of us graduates sat there in our black caps and gowns, impatiently waiting for our names to be called; to walk across the stage; to be done with this chapter of our lives.
There it was; my five seconds of fame as I carefully walked across the stage (carefully because I was voted the most likely to fall down the steps or across the stage at graduation). And then it was over. After the ceremony ended I waltzed over to my family and pulled a giant cup of soda from my mother’s hands and took a big gulp. Right at that convenient moment she whispered these words into her daughter’s ears: “I’m pregnant.”
It took no more than those two words to send a panic through my body, causing me to spit my drink all the way down the front of my father who was standing before me. So many emotions passed through me at once, and not one of them was good. I was disgusted, first of all, to find out that my own parents, who don’t even sleep in the same room anymore because they don’t get along, were still sexually active. But more than anything, my mother had just recently been sentenced to time in a rehabilitation center because of her multiple DUI’s in the recent months; she was pregnant and she had been drinking during it.
I remember the day I moved into my college dorm:
I was terrified. I had never been away from home for an extended period of time in my entire life, thus living away from home was sure to be a shock. Also, not knowing it at the time, I suffer from severe social anxiety; in a nut shell, people scare the shit out of me. More than anything, I was terrified because my mother was going back to rehab today; a special place for pregnant women with addictions. I prayed to God that this one would work. That by some miracle, everything would be okay; that my future sister would be normal.
I remember the day my mother went in to labor:
It was about 2 months before she was due. I had driven her to her doctor’s for a check-up when they told her that she had to go to the ER to deliver right away because there was no more fluid around the baby to keep it healthy. So off we went, to Lutheran Hospital. I called my father on the way and we all met in the Labor and Delivery Unit. By all, I mean every single one of us family members (man, we really are a Mexican family): me, my father, my uncle, my aunts, my grandmother, my two brothers and a few of my cousins.
Soon, we were all asked to leave the room, but my mother insisted I stay with her. While everyone in the room left, the doctor doing her thing all up in my mom’s business, my mother asked me if I would be in the room while she delivered. Even at the thought of it I wanted to vomit. Birthing is not a beautiful process, especially when it’s your own mother’s birthing. I agreed to stay with her and my dad when it was time, against the feeling in my stomach. I left the room to use the restroom, but when I got back, my mother, bed and all was gone. My uncle stood there, shaking and waiting for me. My mother bled out; it needed to be stopped or she would die and the baby would drown. They rushed her away for an emergency C-section.
I remember the first time I saw her:
There she was: Jessica. My little sister; I had a baby sister at the age of 20. How strange it felt. The whole two pounds that she was lay in the incubator, tubes coming from every direction in the NICU, attached to her tiny body. We were only allowed to view her from the window because she wasn’t healthy enough for human contact.
It was December 4th when this all happened. I looked at my brothers and said, “Do you think mom’d be mad if we put her in a stocking?”
I remember her first birthday:
Man, it had been a rough year. Jessica had a heart surgery, a lung surgery, ear surgery, throat surgery, and a cleft pallet surgery in just one year. We all had certainly spent more time sleeping at the hospital than at home. Last week, we had her first speech therapy appointment. Jessica is developmentally behind to say the least. She isn’t even close to walking or crawling. And she may never really talk normally. We’re supposed to teach her to sign…
“Hey, Crazy, want some cake?” My mom really hated the nickname I had come up for her. But every time I said it, Jessica just smiled at me.
“Whatever,” I said in response to the slap aside the head my mom gave me at the name.
“WHA- EBER!” then echoed in the room. Yes, Jessica’s first word came from me, and man, was “whatever” a good one.
I remember when she started to walk and sign:
Jessica had really begun to advance a lot in her developments. She was saying some words, and she knew the basic stuff to sign at us: “more”, “hungry”, “thank you,” etc. My dad and I had been going rounds at each other all day, and I was quite fed up with him. I looked right at Jessica after he said something that made me real mad, and told her to tell daddy to “Kiss it” and slapped my own butt. To this day, when she doesn’t agree with something somebody tells her, she yells “Kiss it” and runs around slapping her butt.
Man, I can be an awful influence, but I’m the greatest big sister ever.