Tyler Gelnaw

Something Is Missing

It’s hard to imagine the Red Sox without David Ortiz, U2 without Bono, or the Patriots without Tom Brady. They wouldn’t be the same without one of their leaders. Families are the same way. Each parent and each kid fits together in a certain way. When everyone is together, there is a balance. Take someone away, and things change. For better or for worse things are never the same. The one event that I remember more than any other, and the one thing that has changed my life more than anything else, is my oldest brother Chris’ leaving for college. I am afraid that the second most significant event in my life is not far away—my brother Ryan is a senior this year and it’s not too long before he leaves my family and me.

For a lot of people, the best memory of being a kid is going to Disneyworld or winning some championship. For me it’s more boring. The best times were just hanging around my house with my family. I’m the youngest of three boys. Chris is five years older than me, and Ryan is two years older. Chris is like most older brothers—he made life easier for his younger brothers. He was the one who got stuck with going to school with Velcro sneakers, and getting on the ice before my parents remembered to take his skate guards off. It was a big deal when Chris had his first sleepover, first girlfriend and first bad grade. Chris was under my parents’ microscope, and had to figure out a lot of things for himself. They spent so much time worrying about Chris, that Ryan and I had more freedom. Chris is also one of the funniest people I have ever met. He could make my parents laugh when I thought they were going to kill him, and was always willing to make fun of himself. He spilled more milk than most kids drink, and Chris seemed to be proud of it. Whether he was or not, Chris was always happy to say that he was the best at just about everything—hockey, baseball, monopoly, doing flips off of the diving board. Usually he wasn’t the best, but he was always happy to teach Ryan and me.

About three years ago, when Chris was a senior in high school, I started to figure out that he would be leaving, but it still seemed far off. Then one day in August we were packing up the car, and the next day he was gone. His room was empty, his funny stories were gone and the dinner table was really quiet. With Chris gone, Ryan couldn’t hide anymore. When we were growing up, Ryan always took advantage of having Chris ahead of him. Ryan is very smart, and must have taken some course on how to get parents to do what you want them to. He always had ten reasons why he should be allowed to have all of his buddies sleep over, or stay up late on a school night to watch TV, or take one more ride on the roller coaster. Sometimes the reason was that my parents had let Chris do it, so why couldn’t he. Whatever it was, it always seemed to work and I watched and learned his tricks. After Chris left, Ryan came under the microscope, but he always handled it well. He is the master of the one word answer when he does not feel like talking. He also became more of a friend to me than a brother. We played on the hockey and lacrosse teams together, and some of his friends are also my friends. He looks out for me and tries to warn me when my parents are mad about something.

Having already gone through it with Chris, I am not looking forward to having Ryan go off to college. Unfortunately, I know that there is nothing I can do about it.


Copyright 2002-2006 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2006 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.