Help I didn’t know I needed

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From the time I was born, it was apparent that my older brother Zach and I had a strong bond. My mother showed me baby photos of my brother by my side, or holding my hand. Photos of me lying on a blanket while he brought me presents. As a child, it helped me see his caring side versus the annoying side I normally saw.

Even in my early teens, I knew we had a special relationship that I didn’t see in other siblings. But it wasn’t until two years ago that we became unbreakable.

When my father announced to our family that he was filing for divorce, my brother and I sat on the couch, and my mom – holding back tears – sat in the adjacent chair.

As my father finished explaining, my brother started crying into the pillow next to him. I was laser focused on Zach as our seemingly perfect world crumbled around us.

A month later I was sitting in my bedroom when muffled cries echoed through my doorway. I turned the corner and found Zach sobbing into his hands. As I approached him, he grabbed me and began crying into my t-shirt. I started crying because we only had each other to lean on. No one else understood what we were going through.

That August, I helped unpack his things in his first college dorm. I was taking out his shirts and hanging them on brand new hangers when I noticed his smile. His face beaming with happiness, excited for the year ahead.

I was torn. Seeing his excitement filled me with a happiness I hadn’t had in months, but him leaving meant I would have to fight my emotional battle alone. It wasn’t until I arrived home that night that I fully felt the empty pit in my stomach his absence left me.

I was struggling.

No one prepared me for how hard it was going to be. I had no one to show me around for my first day of high school. No friends. No one I was comfortable sharing how I felt with.
The person I confided in was now miles away. A part of me was missing.

• • •

My fingers tapped the wooden desk in anticipation. Two weeks had passed and there I was. Standing. Waiting. Staring at glass cases full of James Avery charms and jewelry.

The petite store clerk returned from the back room with a small, clear package in her hand. She took the ring out of the bag and placed it into my outstretched hand.

I looked down at the ring’s pristine, silver surface, and my reflection beamed back up at me. I picked up the ring. Tilted it. Rotated it. And there it was. The tiny engraving that made the small ring more valuable than any dollar amount.

“Z. R. A” – Zachary Ryan Anderson.

The store clerk watched as I slid the ring onto the ring finger of my right hand. My mom asked me if I liked it and if it was what I wanted.

I smiled.

It was everything I wanted. The ring made up for the 275 miles in between my brother and I. I felt like he was with me, like myself again.

I was truly happy for the first time since he had left.

Now, Zach and I are no longer the happy-go-lucky kids that hid under the blankets when we were scared and built pillow forts when we were bored. There’s a realism and a seriousness to our relationship. Built on strength, perseverance and an unmatched love for each other.

Our battles are far from over, but we will always have each other to turn to when everything seems hopeless.