As we get closer to the holiday season I am often reminded of the angel on my shoulder. The angel that was once my little sister. When I was 16 I wanted to be a nurse. I had spent so much time helping my mother care for my grandmother who had broken her hip. I knew how to bathe, clothe, feed and take care of a person so I thought I was ready. However, nothing prepared me for the tragedy that would change my life. I have learned in life that death often comes without warning. It took my grandfather when I was ten years old and I have never forgotten the pain I felt. A few weeks after my 17th birthday my little sister Raven Angel was born. I can still remember getting the call from my mom’s boyfriend telling me she had been born but it was not a happy call. My sister had been born with a great deal of health problems and she died on the table. The doctor brought her back and she was immediately flown to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. My mother was devastated and though she wasn’t supposed to leave the hospital she did. My mother and her boyfriend would spend days down at the hospital. I prayed to god every night to let my sister live. Finally it was my turn to go down and visit with her and I had the chance to hold her in my arms. I can remember looking down at this beautiful little girl with dark hair and perfect eyes. My heart was filled with joy as I held my little sister in my arms. However, things would soon dark. My sister’s health issues worsened and a month after she was born she developed a blood infection that spread. By the time my brother who was 15 at the time came to visit her it was time to say goodbye for we were told there was no hope. I can still remember standing in the middle of that ICU room. Gazing around at all the little babies who were desperately clinging to life. I listened to the sobs of the parents who were told their child had died, I felt so much grief at that moment but I hid it deep inside for I knew I had to be strong for my mother. The night before my sister passed away I prayed to god to take me instead. I pleaded with him to let her live for I had lived 17 years on this earth, please give her that same chance. My prayers were not answered and the next morning I received a call from my mother tearfully telling me my sister had passed away. Never in my life had I cried so hard. Never in m life had I felt so much pain and grief. It was like a part of me died with her. So many hopes and dreams I had of the days we would have spent together. Had she lived she would have been 17 years old and maybe that is why it is stinging so much. Many years later I got a tattoo of a raven on my right shoulder the raven is wearing a halo. Though some people look at me with all my tattoos and ask why on earth I have the truth is that each one tells a story and that tattoo for me is a way to honor my sister. I guess you could say I have an angel on my shoulder. An angel who will always look out for me as I would have done for her.