Becoming an Only Child This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

October 24, 2013
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I had been through this before. I knew what to expect, but that ­didn't make it any easier when my second brother left for college. In fact, this time was even more difficult than when my first brother left, because now I became an only child. My brother Josh and I have been best friends since day one, mostly because we are only 18 months apart.

When he woke me early on that Saturday morning to say a final good-bye, I couldn't help but cry. He looked like a real man in his blue ­button-down and khaki pants. I felt like I was losing my best friend whom I wouldn't see again for months. I threw my arms around him and could feel the scruff from his beard against my cheek. I refused to let go until the very last second. As I sobbed into his new shirt, he stealthily slipped a note under my pillow.

That night I could hear my mom's muffled sobs from down the hall. I had almost forgotten that I wasn't the only one losing someone. My mom was losing her second baby, and she only had two more years left with me.

Josh's room and mine are right next to each other, so sometimes I could hear him in his room. When he got too loud, I would knock on the wall to say “Quiet down.” We'd also knock to tell each other we were going to sleep. Sometimes if one of us couldn't sleep, we'd knock quietly to see if the other was awake. That first night, the eerie silence reminded me that from now on my mom and I were the only ones in the house.

When I got into bed, I found Josh's letter under my pillow.

Dear Madison,

It is such an honor to be your older brother and to have had the opportunity to watch you grow for the past 17 years into such a beautiful, classy, caring, and genuine young lady. When Mom asks me why I don't have a girlfriend, the answer is obvious: I am waiting for a girl just like my little sister.

Together as a family we have overcome so many obstacles that have only made us stronger, and together we have so many things to look forward to. I want you to know that I am always here for you. I am so proud to call you my baby sister.

The letter made me cry all over again. When I finished reading, I held it in my hands for several minutes, hoping that this was just a dream and I had another day to spend with my big brother.

Adjusting to being an only child has been difficult; everything about my everyday life is different. I know Josh is still there for me, even though he's two hours away. Since I don't see him every day anymore, I have learned to cherish the time he is home. Whenever he's home for the weekend, we go to breakfast and church together on Sundays. We never did that when he lived at home because we were always together, but now these Sunday outings are something we both treasure.

Being separated from my brothers has forced me to become more independent. I have also gotten closer with both my parents, mostly because bonding with them is easier when no one else is around. I truly expected that Josh leaving for college would put a strain on our close relationship, but the time apart has made us realize how important it is to keep our sibling relationship strong. Josh has a new life at college now, but I know that keeping me a part of his life is one of his ­priorities.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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