By Marily Lopez
Los Angeles, Calif.
I woke to the sound of my father’s voice on the phone, whispering, “Marily, take care of your sisters while I’m gone. I love you.” As an eight-year-old in Sleeping Beauty pajamas, I was confused. I fell back asleep thinking I was going to wake up to just another morning of my mom and dad sharing a kiss and laughing about my little sister’s ridiculous bedhead. I thought the next day we would all be eating dinner and giggling about how my mom dropped her dinner plate all over her shirt and our dog licked food off her.
Instead, I woke up, and I saw my sister’s bloodshot eyes. She had cried herself to sleep. Confused, I went into the kitchen, embraced my mom and felt her cold tears on my small shoulders. Suddenly, I realized that this change was permanent. From here on out, it would only be my mom, my two sisters and me. Continue reading
By Eliana Lanfranco
Every night, I sit down with my nine-year-old sister at the dining table and help her with her school work. I give her all of my attention and patience, and I make sure that she does her best on all of her assignments. Because she has trouble focusing, I must stay with her from start to finish, which means that I must put my own school work aside. As a result, I usually finish all of my assignments well past midnight.
It isn’t just that I have to help my sister with her homework. I also have to help her deal with the symptoms of her hyperthyroidism, which she was diagnosed with two years ago. This condition makes the thyroid glands produce an excess of thyroxine, causing my sister to have an accelerated metabolism, hot flashes and difficulty sleeping. Often, I must stay awake with her for hours until she falls asleep.
This responsibility falls to me because my mother works until late at night and does not speak English. When I was younger, I resented my mom for leaving this to me: None of my friends had to be like a substitute mother for their siblings, and I envied their freedom and careless manner. But as I grew older, I started to feel ashamed of those feelings. I realized that my mother was working all day so she could pay the bills and everyday expenses. Continue reading