“GO, BUDDY!” I yelled, as he scored a touchdown at his football game. You probably don’t know whom I am talking about when I say Buddy, but it’s my little brother Andrew. Ever since he was just a little boy, everyone in our family has called him that. I may have been a senior getting ready to graduate from high school when he was in sixth grade, but we were closer than you think. I may be a little over protective at times, embarrass him in front of his friends once in a while, and we may fight a little bit, but I know that he still loves me. We always have each other’s backs, no matter what! That’s what we always say.
I remember the first time that I met him. He was a very chubby baby, reminded me of a human beach ball, with sparkling crystal blue eyes that stared back at me. He was all wrapped up in a baby blanket and my mom was holding him. I remember begging her to bring him down to me so I could see his face a little closer. I would always get excited when my mom had to go to the bathroom because I got to hold Drew in my lap on the couch during that time, talking to him, giggling, and letting him know how excited I was to be his big sister. Who would ever think that those times in my life were the big ones that I was going to cherish, as we grew older? I watched him grow into such an outgoing and strong boy, filled with so much energy and more love than any young man I have ever met. As we were growing up, I was always taking care of Andrew, but my senior year of high school was when I noticed that he was beginning to help take care of me. Don’t get me wrong, we still argued, we had our disagreements at times and I didn’t always want to baby-sit him when he was little, but we are family. Forgiveness was something that we both understood and we would find ourselves talking again ten minutes after we fought.
I was in seventh grade when he was in first, and I remember walking to the elementary school to pick him up. When I saw him, he would always look at me through the big glass windows of the classroom and smile! As we walked home, he would hold my hand and explain to me the adventures he had at school that day. He has always been kind of a smaller kid in elementary. His hands were so tiny they fit in the palm of mine, and his backpack was practically bigger than he was. This made me want to keep walking right by our house when we arrived, but we never did. Throwing the baseball lightly to him in the front yard so he wouldn’t get scared or hurt, suddenly turned into throwing it very hard two years later. Time went by so fast but I can remember so much. The little brother that once had all the time in the world for me now couldn’t find a single minute.
May 29, 2009, was the day of graduation. It was filled with a great amount of laughter and tears. I remember walking across the stage and looking up at my family. My mom and dad were standing down close to the stage to give me flowers, my sister Lindsey was smiling and typical Andrew was giving me a thumbs up from his seat. He looked so cute with his blue button up shirt and khaki pants on. It’s funny to me that I noticed that about my brother, even though I had tears of joy running down my face and I received my diploma ten seconds ago. I couldn’t believe that in a few months I was going to be leaving the people who I have been with my entire life, my family. I stood back by my chair as the rest of my fellow classmates collected their diplomas. I was embracing every moment that I could. There was a loud horn that sounded from the section of seats to my upper right. As I looked over, I caught another glimpse of my family. They were doing what all of the people in the arena were doing, watching the next person cross the stage. However, Drew was looking at me. When I met eyes with my little brother, he smiled. It was the same big smile I would get when I went to pick him up from elementary school. I smiled back. Our eyes unlocked when our principal announced, “Ladies and Gentleman, your class of 2009,” into the microphone. Graduation hats were flying everywhere, hugs were coming left and right, and tears filled the eyes of parents and grandparents.
That summer, Andrew had a girlfriend. Of course, nothing serious, it was just a little middle school girlfriend. You know? The ones where you say, “I love you,” and don’t mean it and where you think you can trust the person, but the whole school knows about it the next day. I kept myself busy with my open house, boyfriend, friends and getting ready to go off to college. Well, off to college came sooner than I thought. Before I knew it, I was hugging and kissing my family goodbye. It was hard to leave of course, but I had to move on with my life sometime. I always knew that Lindsey and I would never split apart, but I would always think, Andrew a is boy, what if he gets a serious girlfriend and doesn’t have time to spend with me when I come home after I graduate from college? He will only be a junior in high school, and I know exactly how boys that age are. They party, have girlfriends and most of them are very full of themselves. But could my little Buddy be like that? I came back to visit on holidays and occasionally on the weekends, but I also had a job, homework and softball to worry about while I was at school. I found myself calling Andrew more than anyone though. For the first year I was gone, Andrew would call me at least four nights a week. He would tell me about everything, like how he wanted me to come home, come to a football game or baseball game, and he even told me that he missed me. I even remember when he called me one night to ask me what a good birthday present would be for his girlfriend.
As college got more difficult and Andrew was getting into high school, four nights a week started turning into maybe twice a month. Every time that I would call home, he would either be at a friend’s house or at practice for some sport. I never called his cell phone because I didn’t want to embarrass him if he was in front of the guys. It was my junior year in college and Drew was a freshman in high school. I had only been home for holidays and family reunions for the past two years. Whenever I came home I would spend that time with my family as a whole and I couldn’t find time to spend individually with anyone.
Five months had passed, and my junior year was completed. Andrew and I hadn’t kept in touch at all within this time, and I was starting to find myself drifting away from someone that meant the world to me. After a long night of studying for an exam, I decided to call home and see how he was doing.
“Hello,” A deep, grown voice said on the other end.
“Drew?” I asked.
“Yeah. Hey, Jess! What’s up? I haven’t talked to you in a long time.”
“Yeah, I know! It seems like it has been forever! How are you?” I said.
“I’m great! Jess, I’m sorry but I have to go. I’m supposed to leave for a movie like now! So I’m going to have to talk to you later,” Drew said in a rushed voice, eager to just get off the phone.
“Okay. Well, call me tonight or tomorrow. I love you.”
A dial tone sounded on the other end of the phone. I pushed the end button on my cell phone and stared across my room at the picture of Andrew and me, three years ago at his football game. My eyes filled with tears, wondering what it was going to be like when I came home in a year. He never called back. It wasn’t a big deal since I saw him that weekend at our sister Lindsey’s graduation. Lindsey was still going to live at home, and she went to our community college. The distance between Drew and me after that felt even wider than the last. We saw each other over holidays and had so much fun. We played games and ate as much food as possible, like the old times, but when I left to go back to school, we wouldn’t talk until the next time I came home.
My senior year of college was exciting. I was finally ready to start my career, and I was extremely excited to move back closer to home. I was thinking about being able to see Andrew finish off his last years of high school and actually spending time with him now. The big day came, and my family was outside of my apartment helping me pack all of my things into my dad’s truck. Andrew’s girlfriend Kaitlynn came along with them that day and Lindsey, Andrew and Kaitlynn all rode back home with me. We talked for a while, and I got to hear about how things had been going around home. When I looked into the rearview mirror and into the backseat where Drew and Kaitlynn were, they were cuddling and laughing. They sang along to the song on the radio and held hands the whole way home. I remember back when I was that age. I loved cuddling on car rides with my boyfriend and singing songs to each other as if we were the only ones in the car. I turned the music down and asked Drew if he wanted to go out to dinner with me so we could catch up on things that I hadn’t been there for.
“No, thanks! I’ve already got plans for tonight. Maybe tomorrow or something,” he said.
”Okay. Yeah, maybe tomorrow.”
I could already see the distance between us. All I could keep thinking about was how he used to act around me. I wouldn’t let myself believe that he was a lot older now. I know that older guys in high school don’t want to hang out with their sisters, but I thought that we were going to be different. He used to come to me for everything, and he used to tell me things that he didn’t want to tell the rest of my family. That little boy is gone now. I barely saw him that whole week, and I talked to him only three times over text messaging. Every time that I would ask him to hang out with me, even for an hour, he just didn’t have the time. Another week passed, and I had been living in an apartment near home for two weeks now. I decided to drive over to my old house to talk to my mom about the situation. When I got there, four guys and two girls that I didn’t know were sitting in the living room. Drew walked out of his room and sat on the couch with his friends. I suddenly got a flashback about all of the times when I would have a lot of friends over and sitting in my living room.
“Hey, Jess! What are you doing here?” he said.
“I came to talk to Mom. Do you know where she is?”
“I think that she is in the back garage… Hey, guys, this is my sister Jessica.”
“Hey! Alright, well I will see you later,” I said.
“Okay. I probably won’t be here when you get inside though. We are all going to the Drive-In and then to Brice’s house for the night.”
“Okay. Well, call me sometime soon,” I said back.
“K,” he said sharply.
As I was walking out to the back garage, I just kept thinking, what happened to him? Where did my little brother go? When I saw my mom, I just hugged her. I asked her about Andrew and why he doesn’t ever want to talk or hang out anymore.
“I understand that he is older now, but can’t he just spend time with me sometimes?” I asked.
“He grew up, Jessica. He grew up.” said my mom.
“I just really want my little brother back.”
“You can’t let this bother you. It’s going to be frustrating at first, and hard to get used to, but he will come around. He’s just living the teenage life, just like you once did.”
“I hope so. I can’t believe that things have actually changed so much since I’ve been gone.” I said with a mumble.
I didn’t worry about it all of the time. I just missed him, and wanted him to talk to me about things like he used to. A month later, I was just getting home from going out with some friends. It was around 11:30 at night and I was just getting ready for bed. I started digging through my purse, trying to find my vibrating cell phone at the bottom. When I looked at the front screen it said, call from Drew.
“Hello.” I answered.
“Hey Jess! Do you think that tomorrow morning you could come pick me up? I want to talk to you about some things and hang out.” he said.
“Of course, I will be there around 11, is that okay?”
“Yeah, that’s fine. Thank you! See ya tomorrow morning.”
“Okay. I love you, bye.” I said.
I hung up the phone and couldn’t really believe that I was actually going to be hanging out with Drew tomorrow. I didn’t know why I thought that Andrew wasn’t going to ever want to talk or hang out with me again. I guess that it’s the feeling of being an older sister. Everyone feels that way when you spend most of your life looking over someone, protecting him, and watching him grow up. He’s not little anymore; he’s actually quite grown up now. My cell phone vibrated again. This time it was a text message from Drew.
“I know that things have changed in the past 4 years, but that doesn’t mean that I have forgotten you. You’re my big sis and always will be, and no matter what, we will always have each other’s backs… remember?”
I replied back, “I remember!”