Two sisters tenderly embracing in a hug.

Siblings

I have had my fair share of struggles and childhood trauma. But throughout my childhood, I was blessed with 3 siblings (and a buttload of half-siblings).

I don’t think I knew this was a blessing until my later years in life, until about 5 years ago.

My siblings made the trauma less painful

Growing up with siblings made the trauma less painful. We had so much fun getting in trouble, doing stuff we shouldn’t have, and trying to defy our “all-knowing” parents. And, when my father became incarcerated, it was us 4 kids and our single mom.

Man, despite the gripes every person has with their parents. Our parents taught us loyalty, hustle, and dedication.

We raised reach other

Somehow mom made it from having little to having too much, and dad accomplished so much after spending over a decade being institutionalized. But although my parents are my backbone, my siblings are my everything.

When our parents were gone, or busy, we raised each other. It was made for a permanent bond and some tough love.

How our relationship transformed over the years

My sister led the house, so nonchalant and determined. She cooked, she cleaned and somehow wrangled all of us to bed before mom returned home. I watched her natural mothering skills turn her into a teen mother. Truly meant to happen that way.

Over the last few years, we have become the best of friends, fueling our relationship with positivity and transforming from childhood beef to adulthood legacy between our children.

I needed my sister's friendship the most

My son is an only child, but being close to my sister has allowed my son to fall in line with her children. They truly give each other the blues as they all came from us.

My son needed a “sibling” bond and so did I. Although my sister is my sister, I needed her friendship the most with my diagnosis.

As you can imagine, growing up close with your siblings meant things were sometimes hard to share. And sharing my status with my siblings was hard and hardest with my sister.

Sharing my HIV status was hardest with my sister

The day I found out, my mom rushed to my side and suggested we get some food near my sister’s job and stop in to see her. My mom’s a little awkward and can’t hold water. But nevertheless, gotta love her.

We picked up some food and stopped by my sister’s job. My sister found it rather awkward that we were both off. In the middle of the day. In the middle of the week. She immediately took her lunch break so she could scope out our "shenanigans."

I was in the middle of complaining about how sweet the pastry I was eating was and was in the middle of asking my sister if she wanted it. She replied like any older sibling might: "Eww, I don’t know where your mouth has been. You might have AIDS."

The air in the car became thick, silence amongst my mom and me. My sister looked around and froze. It was as if everything in the world stopped, except my thoughts.

She laughed a nervous laugh and looked at my mom. My mom lowered her eyes at me, and then back at my sister.

I chuckled softly, still a little in shock at the choice of words.

“I mean, it’s not AIDS. But, you would find a funny way for me to tell you that I have HIV,” I stammered as quiet, slow tears crept down my face. I am sure this statement would have passed me by in my earlier days, but the slight bit of truth left me hurt.

I know that my sister never meant anything by it

She began to cry, repeating “I’m sorry”, over and over. I knew she meant it. I also knew, at that moment, that I had to stop allowing harmful verbiage in any situation.

I know that my sister never meant anything by it, and her choice of words - although insensitive - broke the ice. The conversation became an open forum after her pleas for forgiveness, and it helped start the dialogue that I treasure between my family and me.

But, if you know anything about being a sibling, then you know that I am now using her insensitive words to guilt-trip her when necessary. Don’t blame me, I don’t make the rules.

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