Growing up people have always asked me, “what’s it like being the only girl?”
To be quite honest, I’ve never known anything else. And seeing as I had no choice in the matter, I have only ever felt good about it. The truth is, the older I get, the more I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
I have three brothers--two older, one younger. Kevin is the oldest (33), and is an extraordinary father to my two adorable nephews. Adam (26) is a third-year law student at NYU; he’s the genius of the family, among other things. And my little brother, Zach (19), who isn’t so little, in fact he towers over me, is in his first year of undergrad at Butler University. My brothers are not only three of my closest friends, but they are three of my biggest supporters and cheerleaders.
I have been supported by my brothers in more ways than I can count. As soon as they were licensed, Kev and Adam drove me to skating practice and spent countless hours waiting for me to finish practice, and then drove me home. I don’t even know the number of hours Zach spent with me going to and from the rink, every day before and after school. As many hours as I spent on the ice, he spent in the lobby or in the stands, finding various ways to entertain himself.
My brothers came to every event they could to support me and cheer me on. When they couldn’t be there in person, they would send me messages saying that they were thinking of me. Their sacrifice, as much as anything else, is the reason I was able to pursue my passion for 20 years. Of course, there are endless people and things that have allowed me to be as successful as I have been, but my brothers are a significant part of why I was able to reach the top levels of two different disciplines in the sport of skating.
My brothers support me in every aspect of my life. My oldest brother, Kev sends me funny text messages, unsolicited messages of support and constantly lets me know he’s thinking of me. I know that at any given point I can FaceTime him and there will be guaranteed laughter. Adam lets me know that he is here for me and I know that he is always a phone call away. Admittedly, Zach and I mostly communicate through Snapchat, although when I’m walking through campus he is always down for a random phone call to talk about literally anything and/or nothing at all.
Recently, Zach did something that I think I will never forget. He asked me if he could use my battle with mental health to share his story for an event he and his fraternity are participating in. At Butler University, Zach is participating in an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Out of the Darkness Walk. In his campaign to raise money, he asked if he could include my story about struggling with mental health.
Zach’s thoughtfulness, awareness and desire to support a cause that is of particular importance to me means more than I think I will ever be able to conceptualize. It is the random, unexpected, unsolicited acts of kindness, thoughtfulness and love that fill my heart, but also make me realize how much I miss my brothers.
It’s true, time stops for no one. One of the hardest parts of getting older is that life becomes more complex; our lives have begun to take us in very different directions. My oldest brother has a beautiful family. Adam, soon enough, will be taking the Bar exam. Zach, my baby brother is not a baby, he’s finishing up his first year of college. It feels like just yesterday that he graduated from middle school. The fact of the matter is that we aren’t kids anymore. Things are different. Life has changed and will continue to change.
I think what I miss most about being a kid was all four of us being together constantly. I did not realize it at the time, but those were the best days. The Saturday morning cartoons, playing Madden on the weekends, playing two-on-two (tackle) football outside, building forts between the beds with sheets and blankets. Those were, what I believe they call, “the good old days.”
Now, those days look a little different. Those days don’t happen nearly as often as I would like. Life takes us different directions, and down various paths. Whether it be college, law school or the “real-world,” living in 4 different states, the days are few and far between. However, when those days do come, they are some of the best days and cherishing these moments, holding them close to my heart, carries me through until the next time we all get to be together.
As cliché as it sounds, I know wholeheartedly that despite the distance, despite the differences in our journeys, we will always, always have a bond that is so special. I wish there were words to describe how truly grateful I am to have three of the greatest humans as my brothers.