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I decided to write something. A memoir. Dealing with me growing up in an all woman household. While the story will revolve around me and what I experienced, the real focus will be on Brenda and how she died.
To do that, I need to interview my family about her to fill in the pieces of who she actually was vs. who I though she was.
Asking a Latin family to reopen old wounds is like asking a sphere to be square. We never talk about our feelings. It's just never done. We always assume the best of the dead and revere them even if they don't deserve it. It feels like an impossible task, so I started with the most stubborn of the bunch. Mom.
I told her what I was doing. She didn't like it but understood why I want to do this, and agreed to be interviewed. We were in the car on a short trip to Jersey when she told me how she found out about Brenda being sick. She was arguing with Rolando, my stepdad.

Rolando: "You're impossible to deal with!"
Regina: "Well you're a stupid son of a bitch that always cries to his mommy on the phone."

Yeah, mom was kinda vicious with words.

Rolando: "At least I have a good relationship with my mom. Your kids hate you! You're a terrible person and an even worse mother. It's no wonder your daughter has AIDS!"
Regina: "...What? Who? Who has AIDS?"
Rolando: "Brenda..."

My sister was so afraid to tell mom that, well, she just didn't. She spoke to Rolando, who she had a pretty good relationship with. In the heat of the argument he used that to put mom down. I'm sure he regretted it immediately, but... I just can't imagine what mom felt at that moment. To hear that your kid is essentially going to die...

I had no idea Brenda was sick for so long actually. I though she caught it when I was 15 or so. Rolando left us when I was 11, so she must have been sick before that. god. Mom had to watch that. She knew for years that her daughter was slowly dieing. How the hell did she keep it together? She was struggling to feed Luana and me. She was working 2 jobs. She was starving herself to ensure we had clothes and school supplies. And she did this going to bed every night thinking it was her fault Brenda got sick. Where in the world do you find that kind of strength?

I guess this project isn't just about me. It's about mom too. I still look up to her. She has fucked up so much in her life, but she takes all these hits and keeps getting up. I wish I could say there is some sort of trick to the resolve I have, some sort of philosophical ideal, but in all honesty, I'm mostly just trying to emulate the strength in that woman.

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I didn't know Brenda died from AIDS. For some reason I thought it was a drug OD.
I look forward to reading your memoir if you share it...

It was Cirrhosis of the liver that got her. Having AIDS just made her a sort of weak shell. I guess that's what it does to everyone though.
I don't share often, but I do think this is something I want to share with an audience, if only just friends and family.

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