Preetica Pooni
Faculty Instructor: Anna Sicari

Sunday nights were the saddest. He would leave and I would crawl back into my abyss of confusion.

I loaded his last basket of clothes into the excruciatingly tiny car trunk, slicing my finger on the edge of yet another basket. As I watched blood drip from my pinky, he approached me. “Who’s going to take care of you when I leave?” I still do not hold an answer to his question.

Holding the stance of my third parent, my brother epitomized significance in my life. He squeezed himself into the back of the car with me, surrounded by countless boxes of clothes, a tiny fridge, and more baskets. He sat with me, one last time, because he knew of this time as one of our last. Giggling at everything and nothing, we watched our parents gradually navigate their way to the university, while listening to wind roaring against the windows, feeling bittersweet about the distance that was making its way into our lives.

Despite my young age, I understood the aspects through which college was a milestone for him; such cause of delight gave him way to tread upon a path of extensive success, achievement, and perhaps even hubris. However, he showed no excitement, no sense of fear, not a single speck of sadness in his auburn eyes. I retrospectively notice the impact his glasses served in that moment as they held the ability to hide so much of his face—thus masked his emotions. I held not the ability of knowing what such experiences regarding aspectual loss consisted of. I knew nothing of the pain that would prevail itself to me over the next few years.

I broke away from my thoughts as I watched him unload the heavy baskets.  I was taken aback, remembering the times he would render moments of peace within my complicated life. I stood and smelled the crisp autumn air, as autumn arrived too early that year, immersing the university in its aura of hymns of bristling branches against orange skies—as if even nature were pushing his days with me to an end. I followed him around campus, a precedent tinged with tears.

“These dorms are gross!” squeaked my voice. He glanced at his missing roommate’s empty desk. Setting his bed and stacking his clothes reflected as seemingly easy chores that day, neither of us thought to complain about all of the ‘work mom was making us do’ as we knew the diminishing of our ‘everyday’ was now incipient. The memorable moments we created together— making footprints in wet cement, bullying one another, arm wrestling with two hands, stealing one another’s food— creviced in between the folds of his tee shirts and jeans, as well as in our hearts. We dreaded the last box; it meant goodbye.

Attachment never portrayed as my strength but I held a tether to him. I stood in realization that I could never attach myself to anyone besides to him. Flashes of our struggles cringed before my eyes, reflecting the dark and lonely times we had no one but each other in the midst of our ordeals. He and I kept one another afloat. Depicting as my synergic half, he walked my parents and me to the car, suppressing his thoughts with every step he took. I did the same. With my head down, I stared at the silhouettes of the vast forest surrounding us. I dared not to look at the prevalent truth of my atmosphere; I dared not lift my eyes towards him.

He came back days later. We rejoiced, we embraced as I inhaled his familiar essence. I looked up at his face… had he grown?  I saw my reflection in him—the only home I know today. Still standing beside the door, I felt my body fill with rage at his leaving me, alone. He stood as my wall; I was hidden behind him as he stood ahead of me, serving as my protector. He ran inside to the delicious smells coming from the pale-pink kitchen. Mom welcomed him with tears and open arms. Instantaneously, I realized that he was gone despite standing in front of me, and never to return.

As my mentor, he held a place in my life I began understanding, seemingly eons, after he left. Years passed as he often visited home—which would not feel as it was such unless it held his presence—leading to reminiscent moments of our times together as rivals, best friends, support systems, each other’s parents, and the true epitome of siblings. I never said goodbye, how could I to this lithe token of my heart?

Sunday nights, he habitually pushed the front door open, walked to the car, and never bade me any kind of a farewell. Rather, he turned away from me, perhaps experiencing the same feeling of weary helplessness I felt, and simply told me to “stay strong, until next time.”

Next time.