A Thank You To The Best Older Brother A Girl Could Ask For

A Thank You To The Best Older Brother A Girl Could Ask For

To a legend and an amazing brother, this one's for Harrison.
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It's hard to put into words how thankful you could be for somebody. My older brother is the one of those people I can always turn to and is my best friend through it all.

Although we are hours apart studying for our futures, I know that Harrison is always a phone call away to edit my essays or cheer me up when I am having a bad day. No matter what the situation is, Harrison will drop what he is doing to help his little sister.

First and foremost, those of you who know me also know Harrison. We are the dynamic duo. We are two peas in a pod. Everybody is constantly telling me how lucky I am to have a brother like him, as if I didn't already know.

Growing up, we would be best friends one moment, and fighting the next. We played. We fought. We cried. We laughed. And at the end of everyday, we loved each other more than the last.

Having Harrison by my side through out my parent's divorce made things a lot easier. He would always make me laugh to take my mind off of things. Without his consistent humor, the entire process would have been much worse.

In 8th grade, I helped Harrison pack up to leave for college. I never talk about this day since it was one of the worst days of my life. My best friend left me to go become the successful person he was always meant to be. I no longer had someone to laugh with or fight with. His room was empty and in the blink of an eye, he was gone.

Even though we had phones and computers to video chat and text, it was never the same. There were no more iMovie videos, tutoring sessions that turn into screaming brawls, and scary movie nights.

It was hard to be happy for him when he was miles away and I was now an only child. I knew that I had to be strong, but how was I supposed to be happy when I knew that I would be coming home to his empty bedroom.

I knew that going into high school without my older brother by my side would be difficult, but he always made time for me and helped me whenever I needed him. I told him anything and everything. Sometimes, I told him too much. Either way, he was an ear that would listen to all my problems and I knew that no matter what I did he would always love me.

Thanksgiving became my new favorite holiday because he would fly home and things would feel normal again. Even though Thanksgiving was a week and Christmas was a month, it was only temporary and soon he would be back up at college.

During these times, I cherished every moment. The fighting became minimum and the bond became stronger.

Now, as a college student, I am constantly calling Harrison to talk about my day, revise my essays, and update him on anything going on in my life. Not only does Harrison help me with my work, he is always lending a hand to my friends and helping them with completely different subjects. I am so thankful for my built in tutor.

I am so excited to see what the future holds for my brother and I. He is studying to become a lawyer and I couldn't be prouder of his accomplishments. He is my role model and I am his number one fan. No one can beat Harrison Kay.

Happy 24th Birthday!

Love always, Your favorite sister,

Marlee.


Cover Image Credit: Marlee Kay via Facebook

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8 Things I Have Not Thanked My Best Friend Forever For In, Well, Forever

Thank you for always being the best.
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1. Being there through it all, even if you're not "physically" there

We can't always be together, but you have never completely "left" me behind and have been there with me through thick and thin and I am so grateful.

2. Being my biggest cheerleader

Thank you for not only being there through the bad, but also celebrating my victories with me. I can always look forward to telling you good news because I know you'll be happy right along with me.

3. Answering my "important" phone calls

Whether it's a "he texted me back!!!" phone call, or an "I found a gray hair, please help!!" phone call, you pick up the phone and hype up with me no matter what.

4. Being selfless, and going above & beyond to make sure I know I'm worthy

This explains itself and I am so grateful for that.

5. Brushing my hair when I don't feel like it

Okay, this probably sounds silly... But it's the greatest struggle to brush my hair and I'm glad you do it for me sometimes!

6. For being there through all of my mini-crises

You already know what I'm talking about here...

7. For talking me out of things

If it wasn't for you talking me out of things, I'd probably have quit my job, be dating a horrible guy, got my eyebrow pierced, etc.

8. Making me a part of your family

I'm too lucky to have you all as my second family.

Cover Image Credit: Personal Photo

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Losing Your Children to the Streets

A perspective on gang recruitment, why children join gangs, and what families can lose.

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Sidenote: This story is fiction and is completely made from my imagination.

My mother, brother and recently I moved from the East to the West, from a big city to a small, and from an apartment to a house. And unlike our old neighborhood, as we drove to our new house in a gray suburbia, with uncolored homes, untrimmed grasses and people staring at us as we passed by, I began to clutch my purse. "It will be alright Maria" my mother said, as she saw me do this, "this is not the best area, but it was the most we could afford". However to me, something was off about it.

A week later, I started my first day of high school, and like my impression of the neighborhood, it was ok, but there was something that didn't feel right about it. For example, there would be some guys and girls wearing all of one color, and some wearing all of another, who would only hang out with people wearing the same color; there was always a sort of rival feeling I got between the two groups. I found out later what these two groups called themselves, but I always stayed away from them; my brother did not do the same.

One day, I was sitting around with my new friends I made in math class for lunch, when I saw one person wearing almost all one color approach my brother, who was eating alone. You see, after my father left our family for another woman, my mom and I were able to get through it; my brother sadly could not. And with my mother always working to support us, she was not around a lot at home, which left him and I to ourselves often. To get back to it, the guy sat down next to my brother, put his arm around him, and after a couple moments, had him [my brother] join one of the one-colored groups for lunch. I watched this, and suddenly felt uneasy, but I ignored my gut and joined the current conversation with my friends.

A couple of weeks after this, my brother suddenly began to wear clothes that corresponded to only one color; and he began to also join one of the gangs at school. One morning, he explained "They promised to protect us Maria" he said to me, "we won't ever have to worry about our safety in the neighborhood, because they got us". I smiled while he said this, but the bad feeling from a couple of weeks ago resurged. I walked out of his room, and started off my long walk to school, yet became paranoid as I walked past the houses and fences, I felt people watching me.

Then, while my GPA rose more and more because of my rising test scores, my brother's began to fall. My mother saw one of his tests one night, and yelled "Why are you getting bad grades? Are you studying? What do you do all afternoon?". "I'm hanging out with my friends, they keep me busy! It's better than just being around the house for the entire afternoon doing nothing!" he yelled back. "Well, why don't you join a sport like Maria? That is how she has kept herself busy!" my mother responded, "there must be some afterschool program that you can join". "No they don't! I don't like any of the clubs or sports they have!" he said back. "Well, then get a job!" mother replied. "No, I want to hang out with my friends!" my brother lastly stated, and stormed out of the house, and into the street, disappearing into darkness. My mother swiftly went to her room and slammed the door. Not knowing what to do next, I continued doing my math homework, trying to forget all that just happened.

A couple weeks later I noticed as my brother continued to hang out with the gang, his GPA fell more and more, unto the point where he started ditching class. I felt bad for my mother at this point, because she was trying to do her best, but could only do so much.

Anyway, one afternoon after soccer practice, I was back at my house, and doing homework. However, I had forgotten to take the trash out, and since it was a little breezy, I grabbed a sweater on one of the kitchen chairs and threw the trash out. Yet I noticed after I threw the trash out that I was wearing my brother's jacket there was something in it. I had discovered a clear plastic bag of meth as I unzipped the pouch, and not knowing what to do, I ran inside.

"Have you been smoking this?" I said to my brother later, holding the bag in front of him. "No, of course not! I'm selling that tonight" he responded. "No, you're not, I'm not letting you" I said, and ran to the bathroom". "Wait, don't do that! I'm planning on selling that in order to get the money to buy a new stove!" he yelled as I held the bag over the toilet water. "What" I said in shock, "Yes, that is what I plan to do, so give me it" he replied. "You're not selling this again" I said to him as I gave back the bag, he nodded, placed the bag in his sweater pocket, and walked out the door.

A couple hours later, I heard my name being called loudly, and not thinking about it, ran outside and into the yard. I saw my brother's breathing bleeding body and others laying in the middle of the street. A guy wearing completely all one color was standing over him, except that color was different from my brother's. "You see Miguel, this is why you don't mess with us" I heard him say as I tried running back into the house, but I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my abdomen and fell to the ground. The world started to become blurry, and my vision started to fade as I laid there. The last thing I saw was the sun setting behind the trees, and the last things I heard were my brother's screams, and a car pulling up, my mother's.

EPILOGUE: Maria dies in yard from fatal gunshot wound, and Miguel is charged with murder, pleads guilty, and sent to jail shortly after. No one else except the mother (alive) was found. The mother, too emotionally distraught, moved out of the neighborhood 2 months later. The violence between the 2 gangs started again 2 weeks after the mother moved out; they had recruited new members.

For Further Reading:

https://rollingout.com/2016/08/12/los-angeles-mother-reveals-copes-losing-sons-gang-violence/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/promoting-empathy-your-teen/201111/what-do-when-your-teen-has-joined-gan

https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Children-and-Gangs-098.aspx

Cover Image Credit:

Artur Pokusin (Unspash)

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