In 1995 I lost a loved one to this disease. I lost my sister; Felicia Patrice Yelder to Lupus. I was 7 at the time I believe. When she was diagnosed she really hesitated to talk to me about it. She cared for my emotions as a kid. I think she knew that if she told me that she was sick that it would hurt me and I knew that she didn't want to do that. I still remember to this day the first time she took me with her to a doctors visit at Henry Ford Hospital here in Detroit. I remember her telling me
"Stay right here while i go in the doctors office. Don't go anywhere."
It was a very sunny weekday; we rode down there in her beige Mitsubishi car that had the automatic seat belts (I found those more useful than the seat belts now. Lol!). I always liked that feature of that car. I will never forget her advice and the things she drilled into my head. One day she told me
"What is your job?"
I said so confused "...I don't know. What is my job fede?"
She said "Your job is school. Going to school is a job. Treat school as if it's a job. Make sure you stay in school."
and ever since then I've held school & my education close to me and take it so serious. I get so disappointed with myself when I get a bad grade in a class; a lot of people think that I'm too harsh on myself but I always tell people who don't understand me 'I have my reasons'. When I get a terrible grade in a class It encourages me to do better. I guess that's why I'm so smart now. Lol! But in all seriousness; it taught me to never give up; no matter what's stopping me; remember to never give up. She was the one who taught me how to read and write; she even taught me my first big words to spell; "education" and "encyclopedia". My first word was my cousin name; Darren. She has this encyclopedia of hers that she used in college and eventually my mommy gave it to me. I remember she used that book a lot while she was in college.
In the days of her being sick I remember going to see her a second time. She and I walked around the hospital (now that I think about it; this reminds me when I use to walk around with my aunt Alice at the adult foster care home. She had Alzheimer's disease.) talking and catching up. I remember asking her
"Fede! When are you coming home?" In a concerned tone
She said "I will be home soon."
Then I said "When you get home can we go shopping together? So we can spend time together."
She said with a smile "Yes."
Then my mommy came back and then we left. That was the last time I believe I seen her alive. If I remember right; a week later we had to rush to the hospital because she was in critical condition. I remember seeing her through a crack in the door with her surgical cap on and a big blue tube in her mouth. I was so stunned that I couldn't do anything but look and stare; and I did so until the doctor closed the door. I remember looking down the hallway and seeing the hallway filled with a bunch of people from end to end with family and friends. A few minutes later the doctor came out of the room I was looking in and told my mother that she was pronounced dead. I believe it was around 9 or 10pm. It was very dark and raining. I remember either my mother or her boyfriend at the time Dontae was holding my hand tight when the news was delivered. I heard the news and I was just in shock. Even at that age I knew what "pronounced dead" meant. I was so stunned that once I got in the backseat of her car with Dontae I just cried. I remember seeing rain on the car window while we was driving home. Dontae held me close and said
"Everything's gonna be okay."
while he was crying too. I can only imagine the emotions behind a man who loses his girlfriend; mind you that Dontae and Felicia been together for YEARS.
I remember that my mommy was so depressed with making the funeral arrangements; I even remember helping her. Everywhere my mommy went, I when right along with her. We buried her in her high school prom dress. It was like this 18th century kind of dress; it was HUGE; it was red and white. I remember telling my mommy to pick that dress because it was so pretty; besides that what girl wouldn't want to be buried on her prom dress?
When the funeral came we had the family hour first; her body was in the house that we still live in today. My mommy lived in that same house for over 50 years I believe. I remember not talking to anybody; I felt so numb and what everybody was saying to me was just like a TV put on mute; I seen them talking but didn't hear them. I was still grieving. I pulled up a chair next to her casket; and just sat there and stared. Some people put cards in the casket; I picked'em up and read them to her. As creepy as it sounds; I was too young to understand the reality of everything; it was the first time I've grieved over someone. It was the last time I will see her so I made sure I soaked it all in. It's so hurtful how I forgot how her voice sounds.
With my mommy; I've never seen a woman as hurtful as my mother. My mommy always told me
"A mother should never bury her children; the child should bury her parents. It's hurtful for a mother to bury her child."
As I gotten older I understood more and more and more of what she was saying; was seeing a lot of people who are or were parents in my neighborhood bury their child; even in high school; you would hear about someone getting shot a couple of times a month. It's depressing to be around that.
Anyway, moving along; as I gotten older I became more aware of what Lupus is. At that time it was known that only women received Lupus but, as years go by men started to get it as well but women of color are 2-3 times more likely to develop Lupus according to Lupus.org
Subliminally, my sister has taught me that education is the key to success, be strong, take care of yourself and have fun.
I hope that my story brings awareness to this disease and get others to share their stories of someone who have or had Lupus; not all of the people survived but remember what they've left, love. We all are victims of Lupus; even the families.
In Memory of
Felicia "Fede" Patrice Yelder