My sister compares me to Randall from Monsters Inc., and in the same breath, she details developments in her latest celebrity crush. I deny the comparison (although I can sort of see it) as I laugh at her overdrawn reactions and ability to cry on command.

My brother, more elusive, responds to my “How are you?”’s with lackluster emojis. This is until he sees me on the screen, steals my sister’s phone, and proceeds to walk around the house, showing me our dogs. 

I remember the toy my parents gave me when they realized they were having a boy. I still remember two years later, when she was born, and the pink polka-dot onesie she came out of the NICU in.

Now, I wake up to a voice memo from my sister detailing how she wishes I lived closer. When I roll over, my eye catches on the small stuffed dog on my desk, the one my brother rushed out the door to give me before a flight back to Prague.

Photo by: Madison Codoner

I used to think they would never become my best friends like everyone said they would. I never realized how connected I would be to them, or how much I would care about the opinions of two freshly turned teenagers.

It makes me quite guilty to watch her hair grow long and his hair grow curly through a phone screen. But now it makes going home special—her calling me mom (sometimes dad) accidentally in the car back from the airport. 

When I come in the door, he wraps me in a hug, and excitedly, the two speak in a jumbled mess. He mutters, “I’m glad you’re home,” before hugging me again as if I’ll disappear at any moment. 

Photo by: Madison Codoner

She and I go get bubble tea and brunch, blasting the music I liked first and she did after. He and I go thrifting, trying to find the worst graphic t-shirt to bring home. My cousin, aged between the two, stays over, and we watch horror movies as I burn the cookies as if by routine, as if I never left.

They’ll all pile into my full-sized bed at the end of the night, to my protests and wishes to be alone. They’ll laugh with legs hanging off the bed as my brother, just shy of six feet, twists himself around to fit. We’ll all wake up the next morning in a grumbling mess after a night of being kicked and fighting for the disarrayed covers.

I hope it means just as much to them as it does to me. Being an older sister is one of the things I am most proud of. I am so lucky to watch these kids grow and help them through it. I wish these small moments could last forever, but for now, I make them promise to call me, and I get on my flight.