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English Publications

Short Stories

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Cousins are just as Good as Siblings

Grace Chu

Like most children, I wanted a million things when I was a kid. Sometimes it would be toys, and other times it would be a new dress or a new pair of sneakers. But the one thing that I wanted most was an older sibling.

When I was growing up, many of my friends had older siblings who not only played and laughed with them, but were always there looking out for them. And as they grew, those siblings would guide, support, and encourage them. So, as the oldest of four children, I often wished that I too could have an older brother or sister. However, through the years, I’ve come to realize that I have something better than an older sibling—I have my cousin Cheuk. Cheuk, who is two years older than me, is the kind of cousin and friend that everyone wishes for. He is sincere, funny, kind, helpful, and loyal. He is also a good listener and a person of his word.

Some of my most cherished memories as a child were the times that Cheuk and I spent together. Although we lived in two different boroughs when we were children, we saw each other practically every weekend, and his family also spent many holidays at our house. We often stayed at each other’s house during the weekends. We played everything from hide and seek to tag. We went to the movies and to the park. Sometimes he would tease me or trick me into doing silly things, but I didn’t mind because we would always end up laughing for days about the incident. Cheuk and I never went to the same school, so I didn’t have him to stick up for me when I got teased or bullied, but he always looked out for me like I was his little sister. He would offer words of advice and protect me when I was afraid.

As the years passed and we grew up and went our different paths, I thought that we would drift apart. But fortunately we have managed to stay close. We frequently call each other, sometimes for no reason at all, and talk for hours. Occasionally, I call Cheuk just to vent and complain, but he always gives me his full attention and will take all the time to listen no matter how busy he is. We’ve seen each other though personal changes, such as graduations and deaths in the family. He has shared his knowledge and experiences with me and has kept me sane when things have become crazy. He tells me what I want to hear, but more importantly, what I need to hear. His unconditional love and support have helped instill a confidence in someone who was once very shy. When no one else can make it to my birthday party, I can always depend on him to be there to help me celebrate my special day. He has always been there to console me and to create a smile from my frown.

But Cheuk hasn’t only been there for me. He has also dropped everything at a moment’s notice for my siblings, whether it was to help my sister when she was buying her first car or to cheer my brother on at his college award ceremony. And, when my mom needs to go somewhere, Cheuk is more than happy to give her a lift.

We often take for granted the people who are always there. For years, Cheuk was just one of my many cousins. It took me years to realize how important he is and to fully appreciate his presence in my life. As kids, he was a playmate and a companion. Now as adults, he has become a confidante and role model, but most importantly, the older brother that I had always longed for. Without Cheuk, my life would have been less fun and definitely not as meaningful. Sure, it would have been nice to have an older sibling, but who really needs one when you have a cousin as special as Cheuk.

- End -

About the author: a 28-year-old native New Yorker who lives in Whitestone, Queens. A Chinese descent, a graduate from Townsend Harris High School in Queens in 1991 and from Boston University in 1995. Currently working at the Teachers' Retirement System of the City of New York (TRS), enjoying freelance writing and doing community service.

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