Leaving home for my freshman year was, and still is, one of the most emotionally trying things that I have gone through – telling my dog I would be back soon, promising old friends to stay in touch, my mother’s hysterical crying.

Needless to say, the process was comparatively lackluster going into my sophomore year. The heartfelt goodbyes were replaced by “see you soon” and “I’m sure you’ll keep doing fine.” I was honestly just glad to be back, but one thing still isn’t any easier: saying goodbye to my twin brother.

As you can assume, my brother is the most important person in my life. He has been my most consistent friend and confidant. Whenever I needed someone, he was there for me. Up until last year, we did everything together. We were a two-person team, never letting the other down. One of the hardest decisions I had to make was leaving New York to go to school at Gannon because it meant leaving him and my main support system behind. I spent as much time with him as I could before I left, slightly afraid of what the separation would mean for our relationship.

It used to be that if I was having a rough day or needed someone to talk to, I could just turn my head and my brother would be there. It was a strange adjustment my first week here, trying to get used to sharing a room with someone who I hadn’t known since I was born. At the beginning it felt like a piece of me was missing. Friends and fraternity brothers eventually became an effective support system for me, but nothing could replace the bond of a sibling.

Saying goodbye to brothers and sisters seems to be one of the biggest issues for incoming freshmen. Of course, leaving home and everything you know is awful too. There just seems to be an extra sting that comes with not seeing your brother or sister every day when you wake up in the morning.

When I went home for my first break I discovered something: The bond hadn’t changed at all. If anything, the friendship that I have with my brother has only gotten stronger since I went away to school. The distance between us has allowed us both to grow as individuals and discover who we are by ourselves. The number of brotherly spats that we have has decreased significantly. The difference in our experiences has given us both new perspectives on how to deal with issues. He is always the happiest to see me when I come home – well, other than my dog.

College does change a lot about your life, but it doesn’t wipe away who you were before. The relationships you have with family will always be there, even if only in spirit. On nights that I find myself missing home, I can take solace in the memories I have with my brother – catching toads in the middle of the night and binge watching Saturday morning cartoons.

To me, a sibling is someone who will care about you no matter the distance. Whether it’s 100, 1,000, or 10,000 miles away, a sibling will still be there for you. Saying goodbye may hurt, but the reunion is always the best.