From the youngest age possible, you remember memories that you hold dear. You remember how you used to splash around in the Slip-and-Slide in those hot summer days and run around in the knee-deep snow in those merry winter holidays. You remember the time you bought that wonderful vanilla ice cream waffle cone with colorful sprinkles in the hot August Fridays, but then you let it melt too much and let it spill onto your shirt, making your mother ground you for a week. You remember the time that you snuck into that old man’s yard on a dare, the fear and exhilaration of breaking the rules sending your heart into childlike spasms of thrill. And you remember doing and experiencing all of this with your siblings.
If you had a fond memory, your sibling would be there.
For the first few years of your life, you love your siblings. They always look out for you. If you find yourself at odds at a bully, your older brother brings down the law with the bully. If you really want a doll or toy, your older sister will incessantly lobby to your parents on your behalf until they finally acquiesce. Friends at the time came and went like the fluttering of pages in a book, as temporary as the seasons, but your siblings were always there, like a lighthouse, casting light on the otherwise dark ocean of life.
If you wanted a friend, your sibling would be there.
Sometimes, however, you notice some things. Things like how your big brother always takes your favorite bicycle every time you wanted it, and then made fun of you for having a crappy bike, and then beats you up because of some argument you both don’t remember. Things like how your sister complains in the loudest voice possible about how the latest boy she loves didn’t love her back, or her insecurity about her new facial acne, and then takes her anger out on you. Things that make you question if you even loved them in the first place. Why did they have to be annoying at times? But then you realize that they still were there for you, and you still enjoyed their friendship and kindness more than anyone else in the whole wide scary world, and you went on to love them.
If you wanted someone to become slightly annoyed with, your sibling would be there.
After the first ten or eleven years of your life, you realize that having a sibling isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. You realize that you are a big kid, and any limit on your freedom is simply annoying. You want to do other bigger things, like stay past 9 pm, ride in the front seat, and all of those things adults do. Having a sibling simply assures that someone else has a claim to the adult things that are your divine right to do. How could you stand these people? How could you stand for them taking away your freedom? You start to want them to leave the house more. You simply love it when you finally are allowed to stay home-alone, with the whole house free of your pesky siblings. And before you know it, you start to look forward to that one day when they climb into their car, driving away to college from home for the last time.
If you wanted someone to leave, your sibling would be there.
You’re a teenager now, old enough to drive, go to parties, rebel against your parents, and sick of your siblings now cramping your style. You’re the only cool one in your family, and only you can think correctly. You’re siblings are now nothing more than guests living under the same Owen Corning laminate shingles that also, by some coincidence, share your same familial surname. Why can’t your parents and siblings understand that you are right? While you are busy partying, kissing girls, and having your first dramas of relationships in life, all your siblings are doing is wasting their time, growing older and older, becoming more and more indistinguishable from your archaic parents. Now they actually agree with your parents about the issues of life, acting like supposed mature adults. They now tell you all of their supposed wisdom, but you know better than them. How could someone who was your own age only three years ago tell you that you’re stupid? This hypocrisy, in addition to the fact that they now were considered real adults to their peers and the parents makes you now want to hate your siblings. This anger slowly builds more and more. Someday, you reason, you would be free of this nonsense. You concluded that your siblings were depressingly useless people. Their only purpose was to be obstacles in your planned-out road to ultimate success and instant riches. Without them, nothing would stand between you and all of those millions you planned to make while running the next Facebook. All you wished was that they left, and the only reason you didn’t vocally support their disownment was that they had just applied to college, and got accepted to some faraway university in the other side of the country. In just three months, they were gone!
If you wanted to hate someone, your sibling would be there.
It was that time, that day when your sibling climbed into that car taking the final pilgrimage to college. Your parents, dreading this day with a special type of fear and sadness only mothers and fathers can experience, are tearing up. Your mother, with her bloodshot eyes from silently weeping, cooks your sibling’s favorite dish, a chicken kabob with fried rice and mango salad with extra balsamic vinegar, while your father, trying to exhibit some manly restraint, still is trying to cut his attachment to his beloved offspring and helping your sibling with the pillows, bed sheets, and trinkets that were being carried to college, all with a type of melancholy you can’t really put your finger on.
But what were you doing when they were leaving? You just stand there with a semi-goofy face, excited out of your mind to experience that first full day of freedom. You say bye to your brother, who is going to California, and your sister, who is going to New York, the two opposites of the country, with a kind of giddiness that your parents don’t seem to comprehend. You feel slightly guilty that you don’t feel more remorse about their departure, but you brush it away with the excitement of freedom. And finally, it happens.
They leave, and you celebrate.
It’s now two years later. You’re in the middle of the most hectic parts of high school. You’re rattled with a sense of being lost. You’re now being bullied from all sides about the importance of everything. You have to get stellar grades. You have to get stellar test scores. You have to practice your sport. You have to make the varsity team. You have to maintain your friendships. You have to make friends. You have to participate in clubs and activities. You have to volunteer three hundred hours at the hospital. You have to learn how to drive and pay for gas. You have to go to school, then go to work on the weekends. You have to find the colleges you want to go to. You have to write your college essays. You have to pray to your god for luck.
And all of this, you have to do alone.
And when you’re alone and miserable, sinking under the new intense pressure of life, you realize that this is what your siblings went through, and how much you missed having fond memories, having a close friend, someone to be annoyed with, or someone to hate. You realize how much of an idiot you were to throw away the time you had together trying to get away and alone. You realize that being alone wasn’t what it was cracked up to be.
And when you realize how miserable you really are, your siblings are gone. ◼