That Time When: I Realized How Far Away My Family Really Was

Because you all don’t know, I’m the second youngest out of five siblings. We were all born from the relationship of our mother and biological father. My mother, siblings, and I were a tight-knit bunch, always and only depending on each other. Growing up in Vermont on top of a mountain, there wasn’t anyone else around to be friends with. All I knew as a kid were my siblings and the bond of family.

Sounds like the introduction to a Hallmark movie, huh?

When a lot of terrible things began to happen in our home life, my mom took us all down to North Carolina to make our escape. We came to know Bobby, my step-dad, and our lives were finally coming back together. Through all of that, I only knew my family. Even with the friends I had, I never gave them the trust that I gave my family members. We were a solid unit, surrounded by a bubble no one could burst.

As the years went on, however, everyone began to grow up. Personalities changed, and our sibling bond grew strained. My oldest brother was already in his twenties at that time, so he was out of the picture. My second oldest brother was the first to leave, occasionally living with girlfriends or sharing a house with a close friend of his. He flopped back and forth between our house and a friend’s, finally joining the Navy at twenty and leaving for good.

My oldest sister was the next to leave, moving in with her boyfriend and having two kids with him. All contact was cut off for nearly a year after she left, until she came to visit with her first-born. After that, only an occasional email was sent, and she and her sons came to visit once every six-to-eight months. It’s been nearly three years and I’ve seen my sister and nephews maybe six times. The last time they visited, the kids didn’t even recognize or remember us.

My younger sister and I are the only two kids left in the house. My oldest brother is currently living in Maine, my other brother is in California, and my oldest sister is living three hours away in her boyfriend’s parent’s house. I received an email from each of them on my birthday…three months ago.

I try not to think about it, but when all of your friends can talk about hanging out with their siblings all the time, family reunions, etc, then it starts to hurt. Everyone left in the course of seven years, one right after the other. When the Skype calls fail and the emails are left unanswered…then it hurts. When you can’t even recall the last time you saw your sibling’s face or hugged them, then it hurts. A lot.

I have a world full of people around me, but all I have is the bond with my family. They say family is the strongest and the most important, but what do you do when you can’t even contact them? How do you say that the bond with your family is unbreakable and untouchable when everything is trying to saw it apart?

I’ll be the next one to move out…I have no idea what my younger sister will do when she realizes that there’s no one in the next room to talk to. What will my mom do when all of her children have left the nest? My step-dad has only known all of us for seven years. How will he react to everyone being gone so soon?

I’ll say this, though. I won’t let a single email, phone call, or birthday go by unnoticed. The bond of family may be straining under the pressure of life, but I’ll keep both arms wrapped around it as tight as possible. I won’t be the one who lets go.

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