Foster Sister "Alexandra" This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

In a family, there is a natural bond between members based on unconditional love and sacrifice. If a stranger enters this relationship, everything could change.

My mother worked as a school nurse in a middle school. What she didn’t realize when she was hired was that she would not only apply bandages and ­administer first aid, but for some students she would serve as a mother and a mentor. She healed physical and emotional wounds and guided them through everyday struggles and decisions. A ­number of students visited her regularly, sometimes as a way to get out of class or when they just needed to see a kind face.

One regular visitor was an eighth-grader named “Alexandra.” During that year, she grew very close to my mom. Alexandra had lost her father a few years before and suffered from depression. She lived with her mother and sister, and her father’s death had devastated the family. Her sister was acting out, and her mother developed eating disorders and became suicidal. Sometimes Alexandra’s mother would yell at her – the kind of yelling that makes your heart skip a beat and want to run away in fright. But this wasn’t just yelling; it was verbal abuse, and Alexandra lived in fear of what each day would bring.

One tragedy led to another, and that’s how Alexandra came to live with my family. Her ­experiences in her own home not only scarred her heart but also her wrists. Cutting was Alexandra’s unfortunate way to release anxiety, anger, and stress.

When social services got involved, Alexandra contacted my mom, whom she had always admired and trusted. Alexandra was 17 at this point and realized she wasn’t being treated with the respect she deserved. Within days, she packed and left her family behind to live with us. She walked into our house as a stranger, nervous and uncomfortable, smiling occasionally but finally feeling safe. I ­remember her giving me a “Sorry, I never thought this would happen” frown that day. ­After that, she spent most of her time in her room, only showing her face at dinnertime. But each night she became more a part of our family.

Soon enough, I met the real Alexandra, a sweet girl who jumped at unexpected noises, had an unforgettable laugh, and was somewhat misunderstood. She fit right in with the weird mix of personalities of my family, bringing her own sparkle to our combination. After a while, I became very close to her. We painted each other’s nails and texted ­inside jokes only a few feet away from one another. She would even tease me like an older sister. I ­admired her because she opened up to us even though she had suffered so much. Through it all she was still the same person she had always been.

She was not with us very long; she had dreams yet to conquer. Her passion was teaching, and she decided a local college was where she would study English and Secondary Education. Just when we became close, it was time for her to go. Because of my family she was able to follow through with her goals.

Without her, the house is quieter, lonelier, and missing something. She showed me things no other person could, lessons that cannot be taught but only understood through an experience like this.

As I look back on the shadow she left, I question whether I could endure what she had. People say that what my family did for her was a great act of unconditional love and sacrifice, but in my eyes what she did for me was even greater. Though she is not related to me, she is a person I will always ­remember, not as a foster sister but as a real one.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

emilyj93 said...
Jan. 20, 2010 at 9:08 pm
This is an absolutely beautiful story. Your family seems exceptionally caring to take on this responsibility and I'm glad that it was a positive one! You write in a very captivating way as well, this deserves the number one rating.
Chelsy R. said...
Apr. 11, 2009 at 2:01 pm
I have an older sis too, when she left for college i felt the same way, like something was missing. Great story.
Joy said...
Jan. 16, 2009 at 12:16 am
This was a beautifully poignant piece.
tryna said...
Jan. 15, 2009 at 10:06 pm
wow this is a good article i also have a bigg sister that i feel the same way about she gets on my nurves some times but when she is gone i will miss her
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