Me: You don’t talk much about your sister.
Primo: It’s hard. She was not easy.
Me: What do you mean?
Primo: When we were little, she was really fun. She was very smart and very creative and very funny. But after I left for college, she changed. My parents started having a lot of problems with her. They never did get a good diagnosis, although they think she had borderline personality disorder.
Me: What’s that?
Primo: It makes someone really sensitive. My mom said it was like Nancy didn’t have any skin. Anything would hurt her feelings and she would lash out. My mom thought she needed treatment and my dad thought she still needed to be held accountable for her actions.
Me: Could she control her actions?
Primo: Yes. One time, she flipped off a cop – but she was in the back of a bus and she waited until it had pulled away from the stop so the cop couldn’t get her. She knew exactly what she was doing.
Me: What happened to her? I know she died of a heroin overdose. But before that?
Primo: My parents had her committed once and that made her furious. They took her to doctors, but there is not really any way to cure BPD. She started taking drugs. I didn’t even want to go home to visit. Anytime I came home, Nancy – she didn’t drive – would want me to drive her to get drugs and alcohol. And then she would want me to sit in her room with her and listen to this awful heavy metal music. I dreaded seeing her, but I felt so sorry for my parents having to deal with her all the time.
Me: Did she work?
Primo: No. She couldn’t keep a job. She was on disability. She was supposed to move to Florida with my mom and dad – that’s why they got a four-bedroom house, but she died before that. Trying to take care of Nancy just about killed my mom. And since she died, my parents have not been the same.