Alexandria, or Alex, Whetherby is someone who has known tremendous hardship.
She and her twin brother, Byron, were born to a single mother. Their biological father walked out when he discovered she was pregnant.
Growing up, the kids didn't have much. Their mother, Mary, struggled to make ends meet. Uneducated and in dire need of money to support her family, Mary turned to prostitution. She was by no means proud of what she did, but she needed to provide for her children.
The family got by. As Alex and Byron grew, some of their classmates became privy to their mother's line of work. The bullying and teasing was far too much for Alex. The pain and shame it caused was horrendous. With no other ways to cope, she would retaliate with violence.
Things only escalated when Mary became pregnant by a John. 9 months later, Candace was born. Hurt, confused, and angry, Alex began to break into her mother's liquor cabinet, and she drank. It didn't take long for Alex to become a full-fledged alcoholic by the age of twelve.
By the time she reached her teens, Alex was still drinking heavily, and she had begun to experiment with drugs. Byron had become the man of the house. He began working to support the family. He took care of his baby sister Candace. He also tried to clean up Alex's messes as best he could. At sixteen he was playing the roles of husband, father, and brother to everyone in his family.
Alex's addictions took a tremendous toll on the family. She was no stranger to the local police. Her name had become synonymous with trouble. Whether it was underage drinking, associating with some of the more disreputable people of St. Louis, bar brawls, drunk driving, waking up in unusual and unknown places (often with unknown people), or any other unpleasantness you can imagine that comes with a life of using and abusing drugs and alcohol, Alex lived it.
By her twenty first birthday, she had been through three rehab programs. After 3 months of sobriety, Byron offered Alex the chance of a life time. He offered to pay for her schooling to become a paralegal. In return, she was to call him daily, and allow him to inspect her home for alcohol and drugs whenever he chose. Desperate to create a life for herself, Alex agreed.
It seemed that the trials and tribulations of the family were finally coming to a close. Normalcy was just around the corner. Or so they thought.
Towards the end of her schooling, Mary was in a terrible car accident. She wasn't expected to pull through. After everything she had been through, she might miss out on seeing her daughter achieve full sobriety. The family - and their church - rallied around Mary. Miraculously, she pulled through. She still had a long rehabilitation ahead of her, though. As a way of giving back to her mother and family, Alex promised to pay for her mother's care. Multiple surgeries, and many months later, Mary went into a nursing facility. It was a hefty monthly bill, but one that Alex said she was happy to pay.
Alex built a nice life for herself. Addiction-free, she enjoyed all that a stable job, and happy familial relationships have to offer. In her sobriety, she became fascinated with human behavior. It wasn't unusual for her to go to airports, parks, or even the bars, just to sit and watch people. That is exactly what she did on February seventh.
That night, she got quite an eye-full. A bunch of kids from the university were celebrating a girl's birthday. They were your typical loud, raucous college group. Except for the birthday girl. She was a small waif of a woman. She clearly couldn't hold her liquor. After getting out of her seat, she took about two steps before nearly falling head first into Alex's table. When she stood up, there was something magical about this young woman.
She had alabaster skin, brown hair. She was pretty, and genuine. Her smile sparkled. Alex was instantly entranced. The young gal excused herself and stumbled her way into the ladies' room. After a short while, she returned. Her name was Carol. Carol and Alex hit it off right away.
Although you rarely hear of a stable, long-term relationship starting at a bar, Carol and Alex's did. From that night on, they spent the next twelve years of their lives together. They are twelve years of happiness and hurt. They are twelve years of adoration and anger. Good, bad, high and low, they stay by each other's side through it all.
Alex had Byron buy Carol's father's GTO, so they could give it to her as a college graduation gift. Carol eventually bought a home for Alex. They love and give and do for each other. They support each other. Theirs was the love and devotion that fairy tales are made of.
Speaking of fairy tales, it's no secret that Alex's favorite movie is The Princess Bride. She watches the movie constantly. She quotes it daily. That movie is a part of who Alex is. She loves that movie for multiple reasons.
First, it's comedy is timeless. The jokes and quips never get old. She laughed equally as hard the first time as she did the hundredth time.
Second are the back stories. Each character has such a great story. Their lives and experiences are all something Alex can relate to one way or another.
Then, of course, is the love story. Alex falls in love with the love between Buttercup and Wesley. She dreams of a love like that - and she finds that in her relationship with Carol.
The Princess Bride gives Alex hope. It shows her what true love has to offer. It shows her that friends can come from many different walks in life, and still have an incredible bond. It reminds her of what family and friends are really all about. It inspires her. The Princess Bride shows her that anything and everything is possible. That hope, that promise is what she keeps close to her heart, and she enjoys that much more every time she watches it.
It's also important to note Alex's love for the holiday season. Even at her lowest point, Christmas held something wonderful to her. There was joy, there was innocence, there was the magic of Santa Claus - she loved it all. The Christmas spirit gave her a hope very similar to the one from The Princess Bride.
Now, getting back on point, like any couple, Carol and Alex have their issues. Alex still harbors serious abandonment issues. Like a truly devoted couple, though, they work through the hard times, and celebrate the good times.
Every facet of them, their relationship, and their family is tested when it is discovered that Carol had AIDS, and Alex contracted it from her. Each woman had to face her own mortality. As young, professional women, they were forced to greatly change their perspective on life. They needed to learn how to best take care of themselves, while also supporting each other. It was tremendously difficult to say the least. At times, they succeed. At times, they struggle. They remain true to themselves and each other through it all.
They eventually join a support group. Through that, not only do they forge some wonderful new friendships, Carol briefly reconnects with her college roommate, and they are better able to care for themselves.
Life goes on, and so do Carol and Alex. A trip to the bank, however, turns into something much worse. They suddenly find themselves as hostages in a bank robbery. Alex gets caught in the cross fire between the police and the thief.
She does not die right away, but she becomes terminally septic in the hospital. She finally succumbs, but not before reminding Carol that not even death can stop true love.
Alex is a strong, beautiful woman. Despite tremendous hardship, she remains positive, optimistic, and incredibly devoted to and grateful for the people around her. A truly remarkable story about a truly remarkable woman.
Favorite quote from Alex: “No, Carol. You must be confused from the accident. I've always been with you.”