I hate clichés, but I acknowledge that they exist for a reason. So when I say that “distance makes the heart grow fonder,” I speak with a tone of genuine sincerity. To go from spending nearly every day of your life with someone to being hundreds of miles from him or her in just a matter of moments makes you realize the weight of those words. Watching my brother disappear in the rearview window as I turned down my street, away from my home and towards BC three years ago, I began to feel the power of that cliché.
Every year, April 10 is National Siblings Day—another one of those tiring national holidays that crowd our social media pages. Often these trivial holidays downplay the importance of relationships, such as the one between siblings. But don’t let them devalue what we ought to hold dear. If I have learned anything in my 21 years, it is that siblings are the greatest gift we will ever receive.
My gift came bursting into the world during an April snowstorm in the form of a baby brother. In the years since that fateful April day, he has grown to be my biggest fan and strongest pain. It’s a paradox that only those with siblings can understand.
We cannot pick our siblings like we do our friends. Our conglomeration of genes will forever link us, ensuring us a companion at any and all family gatherings. They know exactly which buttons to push and pick-me-ups to employ.
Siblings are constant, static beings in our lives until we leave for college. Over the years they, too, become like a cliché to us; overused and ever-present. We take them for granted until they’re gone. When we set off for college and the miles add up, sibling relationships are forced to change. It becomes our responsibility to maintain our connections, shorten the distance, and strengthen the bond. College is our chance to turn our siblings into something more: our friends.
I came to appreciate my little brother for the friend he’d become over parents weekend my freshman year at BC. Crippled by homesickness, I reunited with my parents, who arrived without my brother in tow. However, as we stood in a winding line for Mike’s Pastry on a brisk evening, I got a phone call. It was my brother. He apologized repeatedly for not making the trek to Boston, his regret oozing through the phone. It was then that we finally admitted just how much we mean to one another.
I know how lucky I am to have a sibling that I, too, call my best friend. Not everyone gets along with their siblings the way my brother and I do. But it requires time and effort from even the closest of siblings. It may mean playing phone tag for a week or only being able to talk while you wait in line for the North End’s finest treat, but it’s worth it.
On that snowy day in April, nearly 20 years ago, my parents gave me the best gift I will ever receive. The kind that deserves a thank-you note that I would spend the rest of my days writing. Although he has filled my life with more frustration than anyone, my brother is my best friend and one day of appreciation and recognition a year is simply not enough to acknowledge that.
I don’t care if sounds cheesy, corny, or cliché: If you have sibling(s), reach out to them on a day you’re not obligated to do so. Put in the extra effort to be the siblings it was easy to be when you lived together at home. Though your heart may grow fonder, allow the distance between you and your siblings to melt away. You won’t regret it.