Opinions, Column

The Struggle of Sibling Separation in College

Siblings! We don’t choose them. Their presence is bestowed on us, whether we like it or not. They somehow always know exactly when you plan on taking a shower (only to hog it first), and they know how to push every last one of your buttons. Yet, if you have siblings, they can shape your identity in a way no one else can. 

It makes me endlessly happy to say that I have the bravest, most amazing sister on this planet. Her name is Liza, and she recently began her first semester at Western New England University. College has not been the easiest adjustment for her, and every part of me wishes I could be there in person to support her during this transition.

When I first arrived at BC, I felt as though my other half was ripped away from me. I “simply” had to deal with not seeing my sister in college—but there was nothing simple about it. 

Sure, as I entered college, I was excited for all of the new endeavors and experiences the Heights would offer. Part of me, however, felt guilty for leaving my sister in a broken household—one we each endured for the first 18 years of our lives. 

My sister and I traversed the rough waters of our dead-end house together, but now I feared how she would manage this challenge alone. I wish I could have taken her with me, and we could have experienced college life together. Now, I only get to watch her life in pictures as we grow up in separate environments.

The day I wrote this column happened to be Liza’s birthday. It hurts knowing that I cannot celebrate her “Nasty 19th” in person, like I could for her first 16 birthdays. Missing many of her milestone life events for four years is heartbreaking. Nevertheless, I persevere. After college, we will inevitably reunite, and us two “blondies” will live an amazing, fruitful life together.

It feels as though nobody talks about how difficult it is to leave your siblings when you venture off to college. People always recommend that you “say goodbye to your friends!” but they never say “think about your siblings!” 

But, whose bedroom would I go in at night, say the most random phrase, do a little dancey-dance, and close the door? Who would I tell my secrets to and begrudgingly share a Honda CR-V (and a toy carrot named Stuart) with? Who would always take my side and support me unconditionally? My sister. 

I still keep in contact with her whenever I can. I like to think a part of me lives in Springfield with her, watching her grow as an academic weapon and as a member of society with so much to give to the world. Unfortunately, our conversations are not as frequent as I’d want them to be, but that does not break our bond. In fact, writing this piece has inspired me to catch up with her at least once a week. 

Siblings are like autocorrect. They can be mildly irritating (especially when a certain word gets replaced with “duck”), but they make life much easier to navigate. 

For those of you with other human beings who share half of your DNA (or if you have step-siblings, half-siblings, or anyone who you consider a sibling), tell them how much they mean to you. Tell them that even though they may be miles away, the memories you share will never disintegrate. Especially the one of you pouring fish food down their throat when they were two months old.

October 15, 2023