“My mother had helped raised many of my friends,” James said. “So I went to school to tell my friends. My friends were like family.”
The next few weeks blurred past, James said. She stayed with an aunt, graduated from eighth grade and then went to live with a relative in New Jersey.
During that time, James had a double ear infection and her asthma flared up so badly, she required four different asthma medications to control it, she said.
“My whole immune system shut down,” James said.
While living in a New Jersey, a sister gave James a notebook and suggested James write her feelings in it. This felt foreign to James because her family didn’t readily express emotion, she said.
But McPeters’ death had also left James feeling “depressed and suicidal.”
“Instead of actually going through with committing suicide, I picked up a pen and started writing poetry,” James said.
At 15, James moved to another relative's home, which led to her becoming involved with church and a dance ministry.
“My faith played a really, really big role in that [recovering from an aneurysm],” James said.
“I’ve always been very spiritual. I was praying in my hospital room. I believed God when he told me I’d be OK.”