We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofAlexcia Espinoza

“Everything is going to be okay.” Those words rang through the room I shared with my sister as my dad stood at the doorway, blood soaking his white t-shirt. Before we could grasp what was going on, the blue and red police lights flashed through our window, lighting up our room. Mariah, my oldest sister, rushed to close the bedroom door and immediately held me as I cried in the corner of the room. Mariah’s first job was to take care of me even though she is less than a year older than me. There were many times when my parents would fight, and we would just be in our room pretending like we didn’t hear anything. Through it all, she always listened and defended me. 

Mariah and I were inseparable. We were all we had. She taught me right from wrong and helped me make the big decisions in my life. My sister tried to give me everything she could. She was my second mom, even though most times she felt like my only mom. A little later in life, I helped my sister take care of my two younger sisters Brianna and Ricki. I went through the struggles she did. I faced the same feeling of not having any time for myself. Taking care of two babies was hard for us because we were still so young. We weren’t tall enough to put them in their cribs so we always surrounded them with pillows on the carpet. We really had no time to play. Mariah and I both had to learn how to make bottles, change diapers, and essentially be mothers. We weren’t experts but we tried to make it work. 

We both tried to give my little sisters the best life possible while we were still going through our own childhood. Doing all of this for my little sisters made me realize what my sister went through for me. I am going to have to step into the role of being the big sister when she leaves for college, but I learned from the best. Her sacrifices pushed me to become independent. Her love taught me how to care for others. Her example made me fearless. It is my turn to instill those same qualities in my little sisters. I want to help shape their futures so they do not have to face the issues Mariah and I had to overcome. I want them to be happy.

In the chaos of sirens blaring, lights flashing, and people screaming, a little girl sat in a corner clasping on to her sister’s arms. That little girl never imagined that she would grow up to become a strong, independent, selfless young woman with dreams that span far beyond the confines of the dark room she sat in that night.

© Alexcia Espinoza. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.