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  • Grace Brown

Reader's Rite: Siblings

By Grace Brown, Opinion Editor

When you think of siblings, maybe you think of them fighting, laughing and playing together. They are like a partner-in-crime to many of us. You dislike them, but you love them like no other — or at least that’s what I’ve been told. I never had this relationship growing up. When people ask, I usually say I’m an only child. It’s easier that way. A lot of people have no idea that I actually have a sister. She is 17 years older than me, but we share the same father. We aren’t close at all. She lives in Michigan, and I live here in Buffalo. She always seemed more like a distant cousin than a sister. This wasn’t ever sad for me, though, because it was my normal. We visit a few times a year at best, and that’s just the way it is. I don’t know if we will ever have that real sibling bond, especially because of the age gap and distance. My sibling relationship is definitely different than most.

  • Sophie Asher

I have one brother, older by 3.5 years, which has made it difficult for us to get along at times. We were in the same school but ran in almost entirely different circles. I never liked any of his girlfriends that he brought home, and I wasn’t subtle about it. When I was living in my first apartment, after a few months of dating he brought his girlfriend of the time to meet me, and something clicked. The guy who had assaulted me was upstairs at the time and I felt the strongest urge to protect this girl I’d just met from him. I cared about her immediately, and that’s how I knew Shannon was different. Now we go on shopping trips and lunch dates and are constantly texting and FaceTiming so I can see my neph-dog. I was always worried that when my brother found the girl he wanted to be with that I’d be losing a brother, but instead I’ve gained a sister — which is what I’ve always wanted.

  • Marissa Burr

My brother and I lived together for 15 years and were definitely never close; at times, we barely tolerated one another. We exhibited all the typical teenage sibling behaviors: smothering one another with an overabundance of headlocks, cruel pranks (like the time he put the hair from the shower drain I had forgotten to remove on top of my toothbrush) and morally degrading comments only in the presence of our parents. When he moved to Pittsburgh at age 18, at first, I was relieved. Finally, some peace and quiet!

However, I quickly became conscious of the treatment he had been enduring at the hands of my father. With no other scapegoat around, I suddenly discovered my father — who was something of a best friend to me during adolescence — badgering and belittling me with incessant comments about my clothes, speech patterns, food choices, etc. Not one of my actions was suitable for him anymore. I had always subconsciously known he and my brother did not really get along well — I was my father’s favorite, after all — but I had never considered that my brother weathered this storm of offensive language at all times. Yet, as the newest victim of this verbal abuse, I realized the undeniable truth was that my brother had been living through it for years (with notably less tears than I managed).

Since then, I have recognized the incredible and silent strength of my brother, who now works as an air medic outside of Washington D.C. (How cool, right? I never should have thought he was lame.) Though it is normal to feud — sometimes violently — with siblings, I can't help but look back at mine and my brother’s cohabitation and wish we had spent more quality time together. I will never be able to force my younger self to acknowledge the quiet acts of compassion my brother devoted to me daily as he unflinchingly took the brunt of the brutal words from our father on my behalf, but I can at least thank him now.

  • Name Withheld

I grew up with one older sister: one person I could go to when the world’s weight was too much for me. One single twin flame that I could never let blow out. One very best friend over all else. I remember, quite vividly, the joy I felt as I used to sit and watch her straighten her thick, wavy hair every day before school. We would slowly become suffocated by the smell of her hair resisting the heat, but we never mentioned it. I always thought her and her hair were perfect without the frills, but I never contested this morning chore of hers because it meant I would get to help smooth down the bumps in the back. This was when I started to realize that she needed me as much as I needed her. It gave me great pride to see my sister’s hair shining under the flickering, fluorescent lights of our high school’s hallway. She wore her hair like a crown on her head and it was only us that would know of my adjustment of the jewels and I wanted to keep it that way. She doesn’t straighten her hair much anymore, and I sure haven’t had to help her with it for a while. But in any moment where we aid each other in even the smallest ways, I see only her and I and nothing else, and I still find myself so proud just to be in her company.

  • AG

As the youngest of eight, I feel inclined to share a story. It all began with a huge playground ball that I won at Dave and Buster’s. My brother who was born in 1982 (yes, the year is important, please bear with me) received the grand idea of wanting to do the impossible — balance himself on a ball that was more sensitive to the touch than anything I have yet come across. He proposed the idea to me, and I was not going to refuse an opportunity to see him fall, so I hurriedly nodded my head “yes” to get this show on the road. He first put his hand on my left shoulder and put his left foot on the ball. Then he looked at me with that childish but earnest look in his eye, because we were soon approaching the point of no return. I encouraged him to put his other hand on my right shoulder, and with the eventual raising of the foot that stored his entire weight came a whirlwind that his back and my back remember forever. As the ball flew from underneath his feet, he held onto my shoulders and dragged me down with the entirety of God’s gravity on this dear earth. I knew that something was going wrong when I saw his feet hurl towards my head and his hands still holding onto my shoulders. Our bodies’ impact on the wooden floor was so loud that it woke up my dad who was napping nearby. The poor man said, “HUH?” and with that, my brother and I couldn’t stop laughing. The tears from the shock and pain of the fall had joined the tears of uncontrollable laughter. Who began the first “you’re stupid” I do not know, but the chain of insults that followed were pronounced with such love and affection as we switched back and forth from English to Arabic.

This is a memory that gives me the happiest nostalgia because while I was never able to witness my brother grow up from a kid to the adult I’ve always known; nothing in my life had ever diminished the 19 year age gap between us until that day. I know he would agree.

  • Hawa Saleh

Rite (noun): a social custom, practice, or conventional act. - - - - - Reader’s Rite asks readers to address specific subjects weekly, providing stories based on personal knowledge and authority. Topics are intentionally broad to provide room for expression. Only true, honest experiences are published in Readers Rite. - - - - - Writing style isn’t as important as thoughtfulness and sincerity. There is no word limit, but you should familiarize yourself with the section before you submit. Feel free to submit your writing under “Name Withheld” if it allows you to be more honest. - - - - - Send submissions to You can submit on upcoming topics as soon as they are announced. We request one-time rights; all other rights revert to the author upon publication.

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