This I Believe

Jolene - Sharpsville, Pennsylvania
Entered on December 5, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, love
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe it is possible to love someone even when you shouldn’t

About two years after my younger brother was born my father had a child with the woman he was having an affair with. My parents marriage was rough and full of physical and emotional abuse. They argued and kept secrets. I didn’t know at the time they were arguing about the birth of my half-sister. My father chose us, my mother, my sister, myself, and my brother and he severed all ties to the baby. It wasn’t until 16 years later the situation would resurface. I was walking to my car one morning when an older woman approached me and called out to me by name. I didn’t know this woman, but she obviously knew me. She told me in no uncertain terms that I had a half-sister and my parents were keeping her from me. As I stood there stunned with tears rolling down my cheeks I couldn’t help but wonder why this woman was approaching me and not either of my siblings. I wasn’t even the oldest of my dad’s children. At the time I was unaware of what the future would hold and that I was the right person for her to be telling.

When I told my parents they explained that she wasn’t really my dad’s daughter because he had never really seen her or taken care of her like he had with us. The funny part was I wasn’t mad at my dad for the affair but I was mad at him for not loving this half-sister. I felt cheated for her. I thought it would be easy for us all to be one big happy family. It wasn’t. No one except me was really interested in getting to know this girl. For four years I tried to bridge the gap between us. I tried to be her friend. Mostly, I had to do this in secret because everyone wanted to pretend she didn’t exist. I knew she existed and I loved her. Before I could bring my half-sister and father together for a long-awaited reunion our father died. Even in my time of grief I felt it was only fair that my half-sister be able to say good-bye to him. I snuck her into the funeral home and we cried together over the loss of the father we both loved, but had loved each of us so differently. I continued my relationship with her after that, but she still seemed so far away. Within a year she had died of an overdose of drugs. I knew there would never be any more time to include her in our family, but I still loved her. Because of that love I decided to keep trying to make her part of our family by bringing her young son into our lives. He is her legacy even if some people didn’t want her to exist. I believe love is determined by the heart and I loved my half-sister even if I wasn’t supposed to love her.