If you are on Facebook, you’ve seen it: college drop-off photos seem to be taking over everyone’s feed. It’s that time of the year again. Parents pack up their former high school kids and send them off to their college adventure. Moms wipe off tears of nostalgia and kids celebrate their newfound freedom. Should be happy times for all right? Not always.
My brother leaves for his 2nd or 3rd year of college this Sunday. I haven’t wanted to keep track of how long he’s been gone, so I deny the fact that he still has two years left away from home.
Me and my brother Fonso, have always been very close. We would go outside and he’d teach me how to play basketball and skate even if after two tries I’d say it was too difficult. He let me join his karate class, I and made him try to teach me guitar when all I wanted was to spend more time with him. I really looked up to him my whole life and I always wanted to be able to do whatever he did. Fonso went through different phases that ranged from art and music, to video games and Nerf guns. At one point we were best friends, I’m certain.
Then, he grew old enough to start going to parties and having girlfriends and I was a third wheel (typical little sister move), so we began distancing ourselves, not on purpose, but by nature. And in the blink of an eye Fonso was on a plane with my parents on his way to college. I was absolutely wrecked. I regretted distancing myself to let him grow up, and having a hella attitude problem whenever he would approach me, but now there was no turning back. He was a grown up, an adult, who was in college and he was going to keep growing up and there was no catching him once he’d spread his wings. But something happened.
Fonso came back from his first year of college and I wanted to cry. My brother, my Fonso, was destroyed. He did a 180 and stress and anxiety (amongst other things), later on labeled as depression, consumed him. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I felt like at one point he just let go and crashed, and I didn’t want him to crash, I wished I had been there to help, but I wasn’t. I had to learn the hard way that there’s just things you can’t prevent. I needed to pick up the pieces, because I partly felt responsible. So for the time being, I felt like it was my moment to be that support he needed, and be his big sister (metaphorically speaking). I picked up Fonso, or the pieces that were left, and little by little we put together the puzzle and built this new brother I have.
Siblings are such a gift. Don’t ever take them for granted. Ever. Of course we have our moments in which we just butt heads and argue and not talk for a good 30 minutes. But when the moment comes where you have to say goodbye for an indefinite amount of time, it all comes rushing back: the good times, the fights, and the mischievous plans behind your parents’ backs. So, by the time you’re reading this column, I’ll probably be on my way to the airport to let go of Fonso one more time and hope I did a good enough job as a sister to have him be alright and come back in one piece. He is braver, wiser and stronger for having faced his challenges and not quitting when the going got tough.
And to Fonso: I hope college is good to you. I love you so much, and nothing and no one can take away the essence that is my best friend. All my best wishes. Love, Lola.
Disclaimer: My brother is absolutely okay sharing his struggles and has authorized me to do so in this post as the brave and courageous man he is with the goal of helping others who might be walking the road he travelled. I’m proud of you Fonso, and I love you even more for it.