Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found

Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found by Rebecca Alexander, Sascha Alper Read Free Book Online

Book: Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found by Rebecca Alexander, Sascha Alper Read Free Book Online
Authors: Rebecca Alexander, Sascha Alper
we know what we’re going to name the baby? Can we help choose a name for the baby?” I asked in a rush. The thought of having a sister brought waves of excitement over me, and I became instantly convinced that it was all I had ever wanted. Later, though, as I lay in bed, other thoughts crept in. I wasn’t sure what it all meant. Were Dad and Polly going to have a family of their own? Would we be included? How would our lives change? My dad had always been there for me: He would enlarge every paper and textbook page on his photocopier at work so that I could read them, advocating for me, always offering to help with anything that I was having trouble with. Would I still be his little girl? But the idea of having a younger sister kept breaking through these doubts, and I thought over and over to myself,
Let it be a girl, let it be a girl. . . .
    Three or four months into Polly’s pregnancy, I was sitting in my eighth-grade algebra class, willing the clock to move faster. I hated math and science, and they always felt twice as long as my English classes, which would fly by, because there was nothing that I loved more than reading and writing. Then there was a knock on the classroom door, and Francine, the middle school secretary, stepped in and whispered something in my teacher’s ear.
    “Rebecca, your dad is on the phone and waiting to speak with you. Please go to the office.” At first I was not as surprised about having to take the phone call as much as I was at having my prayers answered, but my steps slowed as I neared the office, wondering what he could be calling for. I was sure it couldn’t be good. When we got back to the office Francine handed me the phone, and my hesitant “hello” was met with the eager enthusiasm of my dad’s voice. “Rebecca Ann”—this is what my dad called me when either I was in trouble or he was reporting serious news to me—“you’re going to have a sister!” I couldn’t believe it. Finally, at fourteen years old, I was going to have a little sister! I was grinning from ear to ear when I returned to algebra and was completely unable to focus for the rest of class. Would she look like me? Would she share my brothers’ and my goofy sense of humor? She would love them, but I was sure she was going to look up to me most of all. I would teach her everything that cool big sisters teach little sisters, and she would think I was so awesome.
    I was so excited during the pregnancy that I wanted to spend lots of time with Polly, and this was when we first grew close. At night, after I’d finished my homework, I’d lie on their bed next to her to brainstorm names for the baby, laying my hand or head on her belly to feel my little sister kicking. We taped up a list of names for all of us to look over and play around with. We all had names that we liked that were included on the list: Zoe, Whitney, Madison, Caroline, Emily. Daniel came up with the name Sierra, which was generally a family favorite because we all loved the Sierra mountains. But Dad was worried that people would always mispronounce the name Sierra as “Sarah,” so it never went far on the list of names. I came up with the name Lauren, which had always been one of my very favorite names for a girl. Until the day my sister was born, we still didn’t know for sure what her name would be.
    After a terribly long, drawn-out, and difficult delivery, Lauren Sierra Alexander was born on February 22, 1993. As it turned out, the woman who had just given birth in the room next to Polly had the last name of Sierra. We insisted that it had to be fate, and between that and Polly’s horrific labor Dad finally gave in.
    When I held her for the first time I felt so proud, as if I had helped to make her. The name I had wanted for her had been chosen, she was my little sister, and I would be able to do what I wanted to do most in the world: take care of someone else.

12
    I n February of 2013, I got a call from my junior high school

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