Home Alone

How I dealt with my siblings leaving for college

Ariel Lagnado

More stories from Ariel Lagnado


Photo provided by Ariel Lagnado

My brother and I celebrate after he committed to the University of Arizona in 2021.

I stood at the narrow doorway empty of anything that made the room feel alive. Tears slowly trickled down my face as I said goodbye, not just to my brother, but to my best friend.

Growing up, my brother and I were two peas in a pod. We did everything together: went to the same schools, played basketball and video games together, and even had the same friends.

It never occurred to me that the fun would end until we got on a plane and flew to the University of Arizona, his new home. As the final days in Arizona passed, the pit in my stomach slowly grew.

When the time finally came to say goodbye, it was even harder than I expected. The room was completely silent as everyone in my family desperately tried to hold in the tears. I managed to keep it together until I got back to our hotel room, where I broke down in tears. I couldn’t help but feel like I lost a huge piece of myself in that dorm room forever.

I had gone through this before with my older sister, so I thought I knew what to expect when I got home. But in reality, the transition into a different lifestyle was much more difficult this time. For the first time in my life, I was the only child living at home.

This was way tougher than I had imagined it being. My house felt too quiet all of a sudden. I could hear every footstep, every conversation my parents had, every noise my cats made.

My brother and I hug each other after a piano recital in 2010. (Photo provided by Ariel Lagnado)

Even though my brother and I FaceTimed each other every day, it still wasn’t the same. We lived in different states, couldn’t play sports or video games together and my brother had a completely new friend group I didn’t even know.

I felt lost and alone, as if my siblings betrayed me. But I knew I had to adapt to my new environment. Eventually, I grew accustomed to the long distance calls and lonely nights. I hung out with my friends more often on the weekends, and I spent time with my cats during the week.

It was never the same without my brother at home, but we found a new way to maintain our relationship despite the long distances between us. We talk daily on FaceTime about what’s going on in our lives, we play games together over Discord and we hang out even more when my brother comes home from college.

I’m not going to act like it’s the same with my siblings in college, but it gets better over time.

I learned to step out of my brother’s shadow and become more independent through my high school years. I know that no matter how difficult it will be when I leave for college, I will be able to push through the hardships and grow stronger because of it.