So Long Best Friend

Whenever I hear the question, “Do you like your brother being in college?” I know I need to give my usual response: a light chuckle and the overused joke, “Of course, I have all the food to myself now!” Whoever is asking, of course, laughs a bit and then follows up with the dreaded question, “Do you miss him?” The first time I sat there with a blank expression. I tried to think of something to say, but couldn’t find the right words. Then I reply with the same statement: “Not really, he was never home anyway.” Most do not laugh at that, probably because I don’t say it with a chuckle, or much expression.

These simple, cheesy responses are not the truth, however. Ever since my brother left for college, I have been without my greatest friend. He was the friend I’ve grown up. He was, and still is, one of my biggest role models. When we were little, we fought all day, every day, but that is what kids do. The funny part is I never cared if he was screaming at me, beating me up, or getting me in trouble because at least he was spending time with me. I spent every day of my childhood with him, and loved every moment of it. From the awesome hot wheel tracks we made to the days of being pyromaniacs and making our own explosions and insane creations, it was always an adventure. I would say we had a pretty great relationship then.

Robby is four years older than me, so there was always some arguing. Even when I was young, I ­always feared losing my brother. I knew there would come a day when he would go and live his own life. Even when I was young, that would make me cry a bit, and I am not ashamed to admit it still brings tears to my eyes.

As we got older, our creations and pyro stunts became even better. We spent most of our days working on a new invention or enjoying the outdoors. Rob loved winter because he could snowmobile, and so that meant I loved winter too. No matter what I was doing, I was with my best friend.

Unfortunately, as my brother got older, he began hanging out with his friends, so I saw him less and less. Since I wasn’t in high school, I wasn’t cool enough to hang out with them. And so, I slowly disappeared from existence. I would walk into his room, and quickly be told, “Get out of my room. I’m tired.”

Every once in a while, I would get lucky, and we would watch our ­favorite TV show together, or work out in the rickety garage. Any time he went out there, I was at his heels, observing, learning, and trying to figure out some way we could relate. My plan worked, and I began to learn about engines and cars.

The following years he wasn’t home much, so I rarely spent time with him. It hurt, but I was getting used to it. He would be a senior soon which meant graduation, college, and starting a new life were all approaching. I still couldn’t bear the thought of him not being around. And then he met a girl, which I knew meant even less time with my best friend.

It is a teenager’s worst fear to lose your best friend, and I was living that abhorrent nightmare. But I realized it was me to accept the fact that we didn’t have much in common anymore. Of course, that was really hard. I just did what any kid wanting to be strong did, and held the feelings inside.

Then my brother finished high school, I knew the day I had been pushing from my mind had arrived. Since there were a few weeks before his actual graduation, I tried to spend more time with him, but Robby worked a lot, and had a girlfriend.

Then my whole family crowded into a humid gym for my brother’s graduation ceremony. It was obvious I was upset, but no one noticed since this wasn’t my day. After the ceremony we all gathered around him and took a million pictures. “Congratulations, Rob,” I said in a bittersweet tone. To me he was Rob now, no longer my brother Robby. Soon he would leave. I couldn’t stop thinking about that.

Then that final day arrived when we moved my brother to his college. I was ecstatic that it was just an hour away. We hoped he would come home on weekends, which he does. But Rob still spends most of the time with his girlfriend or friends. I can understanding it more now since I have a girlfriend and friends to hang out with too. This still doesn’t cure the pain; it still flat out hurts. If we are lucky, he will come home for the holidays and spend time with us so our family will feel complete again. But the fix is only temporary, since soon he will leave again.

This year he is a college junior, which means next year could be the next chapter in my nightmare. Now I know that him going to college will be nothing compared to him leaving the state, getting married, and having his own family hundreds of miles away.

There will come a time when I will have to say good-bye to my best friend forever. Hopefully, I will accept that we are both old enough to live our lives apart. Until then, I will enjoy every chance I have to be with him.

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