The Dinner Table

Guatemala

“Did you know that there is a country called Sealand that used to be a helicopter platform for the British during the second world war? Like, they even have their own passports and stuff.”

These were the kinds of conversations we used to have at our dinner table before my older brothers Chris and Jeff had graduated. Back then, it was six of us, so every seat at the table was filled. Along with six people came six different personalities. Chris would always be the one to spill out random facts he learned online, like the one about Sealand. I was known as the loud one, because I always wanted to add on to what I everyone was saying. Kevin and Jeff were usually more quiet, but they tied everything together by bringing in subjects like sports and math. Most of the time the conversations took a boring spin, like economics or politics, but I was sure to remind them of that.

Chris’ Graduation

Having your siblings move away to university is one of the most underrecognized change that can happen in life. It is so strange to have a family complete for more than 10 years of your life, and then suddenly, have your siblings disappear one by one.

Being the youngest, I am the only one that who has experienced my family through almost all of its stages — like the stages of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. It started with a complete family of 6. Then, a family of 5. Then, a family of 4. And soon, it will be a family of 3. In each of these stages, not only does your family get smaller but the way it functions begins to change. You begin to learn to live without the people, and how to fill in the gaps. When Chris left, we lost our unlimited source of facts. When Jeff left, we lost the calm moderator that kept all the peace at the table.

Now, when we sit at the table, we push two chairs to the side of the room and space out the four chairs so they work with our big wooden table. We eat much faster and often we can listen to the silence of chewing and the scratching of our cutlery on the plates. At the table, I’m still the loud one, but I don’t do it because I’m impatient to add to the conversation. It’s because without it, the conversation is nearly empty.

My brothers and I have a different kind of way of showing that we “care” about each other. We’re not the type of siblings that hug or say that we miss each other. Instead, I’ll open up Facebook to see that they’ve tagged me in pictures of hippos saying “found a nice pic of you swimming in the water today.”

Even though we often become frustrated with our family, it is important to cherish the moments you have with them. The connections you share with your family members are so special and unique to every household. Pay attention to the small moments you share with them, like sitting at the dining table, because before long they will not be sitting at the table with you anymore.

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