I wish I could find a picture of myself at age 1, when my sister was diagnosed with Leukemia, but all my photos are packed away in our home that is being renovated after Hurricane Harvey.
My sister was 6 years old, and I was 1 year old. She became ill, just before her 6th birthday party. She was diagnosed with leukemia. At that time, there were not a lot of survivors from chemotherapy. My mother told me that she had to take my sister for bone marrow biopsies that were extremely painful. Her chemotherapy treatments were brutal.
My sister lived until she was 7. I’m not exactly sure of the timeline. I do know that my parents had to spend time staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Houston that was near the hospital my sister stayed in for treatments. I stayed with my grandparents while my parents took my sister for treatments.
I’m told that I wouldn’t come out of my room while my grandparents stayed with me. I stayed in my room until my older brother came home from school. He was 8. I finally had a breakthrough with my grandmother when she saved me from falling into the toilet during potty training. Lol!
I have no recollection of this time or how I felt. I can only imagine that a little baby, who suddenly didn’t have her parents around, would feel very frightened. Actually, it never even crossed my mind until I was working with a therapist while my first child was about a year and a half. I could not even fathom how he would feel if I couldn’t be there to tuck him in at night, or feed him breakfast every morning. I was his total security. Imagining me as a baby without my total security system, makes me so sad. Even when my parents could be there, I’m sure they were not very attentive. Who could blame them, right? I mean they had a dying child. Super devastating. I don’t even want to imagine how that felt. They probably weren’t attentive for several years.
Then, on top of all of that, my mother had another baby 3 months before my sister passed away. My mother told me that at that time, she was very upset about being pregnant. Her doctor told her that maybe it would end up being a wonderful blessing, which in fact it was. My younger brother was born and she had a reason to keep getting up every morning. She had a distraction from the pain.
Now, back to me, that little, now 2 year old baby, with a newborn baby brother. My parents had time to focus on me again somewhat, but newborns are a little demanding. I always felt loved growing up. My mother and I became very close. We were practically inseparable. In fact, it might have even been somewhat unhealthy because I was so attached to her for everything, including all decisions I made, even as a grown up. There was a time that I spent more time with my friends, but my mom and I spoke every day.
I think this part of my story is what caused me to believe that I needed to be a shrinking violet for the rest of my life. I’m sure I learned early not to cause any extra distractions or to need anything. There just weren’t enough resources there to deal with a perfectly healthy child. No one ever told me that is what happened. I am only assuming here, but I never wanted attention on me and I was always very quiet. I think my vocal chords didn’t develop properly because I never talked very loudly. People have always asked me to speak up. It has also been hard for me to open up to others and share my story. I have always thought I needed to agree with others or hide out instead of voicing my opinion. I didn’t think I would be loved or accepted as the real me. I’ve really worked hard on that the last several years.
This is only part of the story- the beginning. Stay tuned for Part 2 of my story coming soon!