I stand in a room untouched for 4 years.
As I run my hand on the bed I feel the cold cotton of the blanket, knowing that it will never be warmed by the body of my brother again. The room is filled to the brim with oddities. A football helmet, a dried boutineer, a collection of Red Bull caps and speakers as big as me are all covered in a thin layer of dust, yet it feels sterile as though I were standing in a hospital room. These objects mean little to me; there is a concerning lack of emotion I notice when I enter the room. As I stand there with only the sound of the dog’s feet clicking from the floor above, I realize that these objects along with few fleeting memories are all I have left of him.
My stomach turns as I struggle to remember his voice and his mannerisms, although I know his fame allows for a quick search on the internet to refresh what I had forgotten; I refuse. I have no desire to remember my own brother through what a screen can offer me, but what else do I have at my disposal? How will I remember him?
My memories of his jokes come and go as though a stimulus in his room has coaxed them out of me and for a few moments I remember. The inappropriate, and frankly childish punch lines come flooding back to me, giving me a sense of comfort I had long forgotten. Will this be enough to help me remember him?
A picture frame containing a photo of my brother and his closest friends catches my eye.
They all carry a little bit of Zach with them, mannerisms they have adopted from the strong character who was my brother. Their presence and even my knowledge of their existence out in the world makes me feel safe. Will they be enough to help me remember him?
The sheets and pillowcases I lay down on still sport patterns of superheroes and race cars, an odd choice of bedding for an 18-year-old. He is now 21; the number grows as each year passes and each year we manage to celebrate without him. These dates of significance- his birthday, his diagnosis and the day of his passing- foster a plethora of emotions, both welcome and unwelcome. Will these be enough to help me remember him?
Every once in awhile I still struggle to remember my brother, but I can now manage to remember him without going into that room. I no longer need mementos of him to remember his toothy smile and his risky jokes. I have realized that I, too, carry a little bit of him with me everywhere I go. I am his little sister, his best friend, and to this day I am his responsibility; he will never let me forget.
College essay written by Grace Sobiech
Grace Sobiech, 18, is the sister of Zach who passed away from osteosarcoma. She graduates from Stillwater Area High School this year.