Hannah is my older sister, though you wouldn't immediately know it by looking at her.
Her short 4 feet 10 inch stature and slim frame combined with her chatty, childlike
personality often tricked people into believing she was 8 years old, when she was in
Had Hannah been normal and healthy, she might've been taller, but the
medicines she was forced to take due to her rheumatoid arthritis stunted her growth.
Instead of crying over being small, Hannah embraced it. " Short people will rule the world, you know?" She told me one day.
" Good luck, you will have to step over the tall people first." I'd replied with a smirk.
There were times when Hannah's constant talking made me wish she would just
shut up for a few moments, but later, I would beg God to please, please let Hannah talk again.
It was a beautiful morning in November 2008. The sun was already shining through the grubby window that faced the east when I opened my eyes.
My long, thick brown hair was still gloriously damp from my shower the previous night, and my pillow smelled strongly of the Suave Coconut Shampoo that my Mother had gotten from a sale at Dillons.
I guessed it was between 7 to 8 o'clock in the morning. After a few moment's thought, I decided to just lay in my bed on the top bunk for a little while longer.
It was simply too early to get up. I had at least another fifteen minutes before Mother would come up and tell us it was time for breakfast.
Us, being the girls and I, who all shared a room. Hannah and Chela were probably still asleep on the bottom bunk, I would've heard them if they had woken up.
Chela is my youngest sister, 6 years old, and already tall for her age. She's the most " Mexican" looking out of us girls.
Her skin is a pretty tan in the winter, and in the summer it changes to a gorgeous bronze.
With her dark brown, almost black hair and brown almond shaped eyes, there was no doubt that we'd have trouble later on keeping boys away from her.
In contrast, Hannah had short brown hair styled in a pixie cut, a la Tinkerbelle, with " the pale skin of the Pimentel's" as my Mother called it.
Our brothers made fun of her hair when she first had it cut, saying she looked like a boy, but i liked it. The style framed her small face and large brown eyes nicely.
After about 10 minutes of lying in my bed, I became bored. I reached behind my pillow, where I kept my stash of library books, and started to read Eragon, my favorite novel at the time.
I had finally graduated from my horse obsession, and moved to dragons. As I turned each page, I went deeper into the realm where people rode on the backs of dragons and evil kings used magic to govern their kingdoms. In other words, I was in heaven.
What was that? It sounded like someone cracking their knuckles. I glanced around my bed in case it was a strange bug or Kuddles the cat, but no. Nothing was out of place.
Could it be the kittens in their bed down on the floor? From my perch on the top bunk, I looked around the room. No, they were all sound asleep.
Finally, there was only one place left to look. Sitting up, I leaned over the cold rails that kept me from falling at night and glanced down into the bottom bunk.
Chela was asleep to the side of the bed closest to the wall, the blankets almost fully covering her head. Only her hair was visible.
Hannah was directly below me, and her body trembling from head to toe.
Hannah! What are you doing?" I whispered hoarsely down to her. I figured Hannah was probably just in a bit of pain from her arthritis.
Whenever she had some pains, she would rub her leg. She said it helped. While rubbing her leg, her body would shake a bit. Though never as much as now.
Then I really looked at her. Her eyes were staring blankly up at me, seeing nothing. There was no emotion in her face, her mouth opened and closed mechanically, teeth snapping together each time. That was the clicking I'd heard.
There was saliva dripping down the corner of her mouth. Her hands were curled up, thumbs moving up and down sporadically, and if the situation had been different, I'd have sworn she had an Xbox controller in her hands.
Now that I was away from my shampoo pillow, I could smell the faint scent of urine. In the same instant that I noticed all of that, my stomach tightened, and cold fear settled in my chest. I realized that something was very, very wrong with my sister.
Throwing off my covers, I put one leg over the railing, and then the other. Dropping down, my knees hit the bottom bunk rails with an audible thunk.
Ignoring the pain, I ran to my mother's room and screamed at her that something was wrong with Hannah.
I'd never seen Mum move as fast as she did just then. She leaped out of her bed and ran to our room just a few feet away, her blackish grey hair messy from sleep.
When she saw Hannah still twitching and shaking, she yelled at my brothers in the next room to call 911.
I just stood there, feeling utterly helpless, until Mother shouted at me to call my dad, who was at work. I ran downstairs and picked up the phone. It took me 2 tries to get the number punched in right.
When Dad answered, I couldn't even explain the situation correctly to him. I just sobbed and blubbered a few words.
Later he told us all he'd heard was that Hannah was sick and Mother had called 911, then he had taken off and sped home, probably breaking about 10 different traffic laws in the process.
Running back upstairs, I told Mother that Dad was on his way. Hannah was still shaking, and Mother had taken the covers off of her, and was trying to keep her still.
Chela was finally awake and crying over by the kittens, while my brothers were walking around the hallway trying to figure out what they should be doing.
The ambulance was on it's way. I asked Mother what I should do, and she said we should change Hannah's pants before the paramedics got there.
The smell of urine had been right. As soon as she was changed, paramedics burst into the room. There was about 5 of them, a few guys and a couple of girls.
For a random second, I thought that if Hannah had been aware enough to see it, she would have been so embarrassed by all the attention being given to her while she was in her thermal pajamas.
One paramedic asked Mother a bunch of questions, while a couple of others picked Hannah up by her arms and legs and started carrying her downstairs.
They didn't even have a gurney out. Hannah's arms were flapping like a doll's, and her shirt had ridden up to expose part of her stomach.
That pissed me off. Here was a bunch of people supposed to help my sister, and they didn't even care about her dignity.
Mother saw what had happened and yanked Hannah's shirt back down as soon as she could.
Someone grabbed blankets and tossed them over Hannah to keep her warm as they took her outside to the ambulance.
Nearly out the door, Mother told the rest of us to stay put, that they would call when there was news and that my brother Billy was in charge.
It wasn't until then that I noticed Dad there, speaking urgently with one of the paramedics. It hadn't been 5 minutes since I had spoken to him on the phone.
I watched the ambulance pull out of the driveway, wanting to cry some more but unable to. My tears had been spent.
An empty feeling, like what you feel after you've puked up all the food from your body, came over me. Questions ran through my mind.
What could I have done differently to help her? Why was I so useless?
When Mother called us later that day, she told us that Hannah had had a grand mal seizure that had lasted around 5 hours.
There wasn't much they could do but wait it out, and she would probably have more in the next few years. The doctors were seeing about treatment options now.
Hearing that Hannah was going to most likely need assistance her entire life, since now she wouldn't even be allowed to drive, struck me to the core.
Later that night, lying in my bed again, I was struck with a new revelation. I didn't have to be useless, I could help Hannah.
That night, I resolved to become the person people turned to for help, and not the person who stood by the sidelines as tragedies happened.
A few years later, I would be able to name that person.