It’s a big change, having to say goodbye to your siblings. The entire family dynamic switches when the youngest child becomes the oldest in the house. For some, it’s a change for the better, with the lone child thrilled to finally have some time to themselves. Others feel as if they’re losing their older brothers and sisters for good.
“We’re a bit scattered at the moment,” senior Audrey Johnson said.
Her dad lives in Illinois, her mom in Wichita, one of her brothers in Lenexa and the other in Shawnee. Johnson lives here with her stepmom. She finds herself in a quieter house now that her brothers have left.
“It’s a little bit different,” Johnson said. “My brother, Ben, used to live in the basement, so I don’t have to text him anymore to ask him if I can have friends down there. It feels a bit empty now, though.”
Their departure doesn’t come without the negatives, however. It’s sinking in that they are really gone.
“I miss having a full house,” Johnson said. “I miss the noise and always having someone to talk to. Now, it’s just my stepmom and I. It’s very, very quiet compared to when I was younger.”
Despite the house being empty, Johnson finds the time to communicate with her brothers. Even with the distance, she holds a strong relationship with her family.
“We text occasionally, and we only really see each other during the occasional family dinner, but we still talk,” Johnson said. “We even talk more now than we did when they lived here in college high school.”
Although they no longer live together, their relationship stays strong.
“We’re more scattered than we used to be, but we’re still a family.”
Boys are not exactly known for getting along amongst each other, however, senior Spencer Shreve has a strong relationship with all three of his brothers.
“I’m the youngest,” Shreve said. “But I still have a really close bond with them. We’re all pretty similar in the way that we all liked the same things and that we all play sports.”
They aren’t as close as they have been though. His brother Patrick is now 22, living in Lawrence and his oldest brother Sam is 24 and lives in Washington D.C.
“We used to fight a lot, but we don’t as much anymore,” Shreve said. “It’s hard to fight when no one’s there. Plus, we’ve all grown a lot. We’ve matured. But I mean, brothers fight, that’s how it works.”
But with the departure of Jacob, who left for Kansas State University in August, Shreve is the last of the bunch at home.
“I really do miss them,” said Shreve. “I don’t talk to them as much, but in some ways, our bond has gotten stronger. It always feels more special when I talk to them. It’s just a bit different.”
He still communicates with them fairly often and they continue to share their common interests, especially in sports.
“Every Sunday, we talk about fantasy football for hours on end. In fact, I just played my brother Jacob last weekend and he absolutely killed me.”
Junior Abbi Hamilton has never had the most standard relationship with her sister, Jackie.
“We’re very close,” Hamilton said. “We rely on each other.”
They’ve never fought, and she credits it largely to the 13-year age gap. They still have a strong, trusting relationship in spite of being so far apart in age.
“If our situation was any different, our relationship would be, too,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton was six years old when her sister left for Avila University. She lived in Blue Springs at the time.
“It was hard for me. I didn’t see her much to begin with since she lived with her dad,” Hamilton said. “After she left for college, I’d spend hours crying anytime I saw her, and any time she had to leave again.”
She never really adjusted to all of this. Neither did her sister.
“It was a matter of coping,” Hamilton said. “Being apart like that for so long really hurt. We both missed each other so much and every time I thought of her, I broke into tears. I was an emotional wreck.”
Since her sister has graduated from college, Hamilton lives much closer to her. She gets to spend the time that she missed out on while she was away for eight years.
“I see her almost every day now since she moved to Lenexa,” Hamilton said. “If one of us is having a bad day or has something we need to get off our minds, we always tell each other. There are just some things you can only share with someone that close.”
Their relationship is as strong as ever.
“I don’t know what I’d do if she had to leave again,” Hamilton said. “Cry, probably.”