It’s no secret that my sister and I do not have a close relationship. Most of my issues with Julie stem from her tendency to be the victim, “cry wolf” over non-existent situations, and even create her own fairy tale kind of world through her lies and malicious actions. Frankly, I’m tired of her bullshit. Since she was about 10 years old, she doesn’t care who she hurts or seems to realize that her actions have consequences on those around her.
Hell, she stole (and sold) a coin collection from our grandmother, stole painkillers from our dad, made up lies about Mike, lied about being abused by our parents and her husband, and made up stories of sexual harassment in more than one workplace. And that covers just 10 of her nearly 40 years on this planet.
Julie lives her life balls-to-the-wall (but not in a good way) for about three to five years, then she burns so many bridges and has told so many lies that she can’t keep anything straight. So, she reinvents herself and moves on to a new life, new town, new job and a new pseudo-identity.
She been in her current life for about six years, so I figured she was due for a change.
In fact, it’s become a joke with my mom and me: what will Julie “be” next? My money was on her getting knocked up by a random dude. She hadn’t done that yet, but she’s been trolling around (and sharing her sexual exploits with — MY MOM… WTF?).
She’s been complaining of being sick for YEARS. My dad thought she was just lazy, looking for the easy way out of life and responsibilities and adulthood – seemed reasonable and it totally fit her M.O. I wrote off any seriousness when she refused to let my mom go to the doctor with her a few years ago. (Even my mom didn’t believe her tales of illness and wanted confirmation from the doc that Julie was really sick and not faking it for attention, which wouldn’t have been the first time.)
But last night, after talking to my mom and Julie, and researching her condition, I realized that she’s dying. Dying.
She has a chronic virus that will kill her. It has already caused a form of chronic fatigue syndrome, which has her on disability from her job. It will suppress her immune system to the point where fighting a cold will be dangerous. It can increase the chances of getting certain cancers. And if that doesn’t do it, her organs will eventually shut down.
We know she’s tested positive for a certain marker for about six years. (From the limited information I can find, there is a much shortened life expectancy.) Doctors originally balked at a diagnosis because the rare disorder she has is typically only found in Asian cultures. (We are not of Asian descent, and Panda Express is as close as Julie has ever come to visiting Asia.) She has a team of some of the best doctors in the country, and they’re baffled. They’re referring her to a specialist for recommendations for how to keep the virus at bay as long as possible. But there is no cure, no known explanation for how she contracted this virus, and things are going to get much worse for her.
Last night, after accepting that Julie IS sick and not faking it, my mom and I started some difficult conversations: at what point do we make Julie move here by us? (She’s currently about 11 hours and four states away.) Will we have to put her in a care facility at some point? How and when can we take responsibility for Julie’s 19-year-old daughter?