Today we share a Sister Story from Alaina. She writes to us from Phoenix, Arizona. Full disclosure: Alaina asked for names to be changed to maintain employment privacy.
My name is Alaina. Raised by my grandparents on my mom’s side, I was an only child. I remember having a bad childhood until they stepped in and adopted me. My mom was really addicted to drugs. She would drop me off at my grandparents with dirty, smelly clothes and not come back to get me until many days later. There were a lot of fights, that I do remember. I also remember feeling scared and not wanting to talk to anyone since I did not have a brother or sister to rely on.
My dad was not really in my life at all, either. When he did show up, it didn't last for long. I later found out that he spent a lot of time in and out of jail, so I never visited him when I was a kid. He had started another family with someone else, but I later learned he was not a model dad to my half-siblings.
Despite all the negativity that surrounded me, my grandparents did what they could to make my childhood a happy one. I was in sports and got okay grades. I hung out with the kids on my block and cousins at family parties. Still, there was a nagging feeling inside me that made me feel lonely and wanting more.
I wanted a sister.
When I was in third grade, I met Gabriella. She was a dark haired, brown eyed girl who sat next to me in Mrs. Stone’s class. Her hair was long and straight, and I wanted to be as pretty as her. She was quiet but nice to me. I remember her smiling eyes and thinking that with her, I could be safe.
We first started playing together during recess and quickly became best friends. Her family was really nice. They were from Mexico and spoke Spanish in their house, so Gabby taught me how to talk with her relatives. We had regular sleepovers at each others’ houses and went to parties together. We talked about everything and did lots of things together. She let me feel like I could trust her like a sister. I wanted one so badly, so I pretended Gabby was my sister. She didn’t mind because her older brothers did not want to play with her anyway. Together, we were unstoppable.
When we got into junior high school, our world’s seemed to change very quickly. We were interested in the latest trends in hair, clothes, and music. She liked cowboys and country music, and I liked hip hop and rap. Something as simple as music started to divide us. It bothered both of us, but we tried to keep our friendship going. By the time we reached high school, we had formed our own new groups of friends, and we saw less and less of each other.
Everything came crashing down when my grandpa died suddenly of a heart attack when I was a sophomore. I was scared because it reminded me of when I felt unstable with my own parents as a little girl. Losing him so quickly, my grandma and I did not know how we would ever survive without him in the house.
I felt really alone. I wanted to reach out to Gabby so badly, but I was afraid she would laugh at me or shut me out. (What a stupid fear to have all these years later.) Don’t get me wrong, the friends I had were friendly and funny, but none of them compared to my Gabby. She had a way of knowing what I was thinking before I said it. When my grandpa died, I needed Gabby.
The next day, gossip about my grandpa quickly moved through the hallways. I did not go to school that day, so Gabby came over to my house. She wanted to see how I was doing, and it made me feel special. I cried a thousand tears in front of her. Looking back, I cried for the loss of him but also for the support from her. I felt so loved in that moment. (I do not think she knows that part, but now she does!)
Fast forward to today.
Gabby and I are both 32 years old and living married lives with kids. She moved to Los Angeles with her husband and how have two children. I stayed in Phoenix to be with my grandma. I never got married, but I have a daughter who is about to enter 7th grade. Gabby and I talk regularly on the phone or send funny text messages to each other.
Growing up without parents was not easy. I needed a sister during my darkest days. My friend, Gabby, lifted me up and became my sister. I am glad she chose me.
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