My Sister is a Survivor

I was five years old when my beloved sister was born several weeks premature. Our mother bled excessively, and Tara nearly drowned in the blood–an emergency C-section was ordered to save them both. Mom required a transfusion, and baby went to NICU. Our beautiful Tara with jet black hair, she was born with many health issues, including her kidneys being positioned one on top of the other–there’s a clearly visible bulge in her abdomen. Hours after her birth, she underwent a spinal-tap. And most of her toddler-hood was spent in hospitals treating her gastrointestinal problems.

Tara didn’t begin to speak until she was three years old. Mom and Dad couldn’t understand her, and they often asked me to interpret–my sister and I have been specially connected since the day I first held her proudly in my little arms. And to think I had hoped for a brother.

Tara wasn’t affectionate as a toddler. She was six years old when Dad left; she hadn’t begun to hug our dad, and tell him goodnight until age four. No lie, I remember the first time she wrapped her arms around Dad’s neck before bed and said, “I love you.” Earth ceased to spin for just a precious moment.

In the months following our parents’ separation, Tara and I slept with our mother in the waterbed. Yeah, Mom and Dad were once a freaky couple. I used to hear the swish-swish late at night. But I digress.

Every night, we all went to sleep with the radio/alarm clock playing low volume adult contemporary. I awoke at the Witching Hour regularly to the sound of Tara heaving over the Chi-Lites singing “Oh, Girl.” Seriously, the same song every fucking dark morning. And Mom would be crying, wiping Tara’s mouth with a damp cloth–the vomit was thick, dark, and viscous as winter motor oil.


Tara was molested by our step-brother. I was twenty-one, living on my own with a three year old daughter, and her father. After my sister’s sixteenth birthday, Mom moved herself and Tara to Texas, despite a court order to keep Tara in the state of Michigan. Dad could have done something about the illegal move, but since it was his step-son who violated his daughter, Dad let the whole thing go. By the way, Dad and his second wife divorced shortly after the incident. Not before I’d unleashed on him–it was the first time I ever swore at my dad, and directed the f word at him. He took it well.

My sister lived in Texas “with” our mother for twelve years, and of those twelve years, I only saw her three times–three weeks vacation out of twelve years. Twelve fucking years. 

Mom and Tara have both been living home in Michigan for the past three years. Tara has three children with a Texas native named Ronny, who is a colossal douche bag. Ronny was once a Meth addict, and one night, he and his friends gang raped my sister. Who knows if any of their children are a result of that rape.

I know Tara was a Meth addict for a while before she left Ronny for good. She has to live the rest of her life knowing she was a shit of a mother. But she tries. She has a good job, a supervisor position. She’s clean. Her fiance is clean, and I love him so much–he’s a good guy.

It was soul crushing for me, with my little sister living so far away from my influence. I’m the one who raised her mostly. I made sure she made it school every day, I fed her every night. I helped her with her homework. I went to bed with her, and soothed her to sleep when she was worried about our absent mom. When she was taken away from me…I hate to say that I died given I had a beautiful daughter to raise…but part of me did die. Tara was my first born.

And even though she lived hundreds of miles away from me, we somehow maintained our connection. I suppose a connection like ours doesn’t need to be maintained. It’s in the blood–or fucking fate, or whatever.

When Tara came home for good, it was like we’d never been separated. She’s my best friend. And she’s tougher than I am in different ways. We complement one another.

I am a survivor. And so is Tara.



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