I am in college because Nick Konchar went to college. Throughout my life, my two older brothers Nick and Ben have been guiding forces. They have heavily influenced me in positive ways, and it is through their amazing leadership that I have developed some of my best qualities.
I have seen many inspirational stories on Facebook lately about what it takes to have a sibling: to love them, guide them and look after them. I couldn’t think of two people who deserved that recognition more than the two men who guided me through childhood to become the woman I am now. Nick and Ben, both only a few years older than me, have taught me lessons throughout my life that affect every decision I make today.
Do whatever it takes
Nick worked his way through college, sometimes working more than one job at a time. He took out loans for school so that he could get the education he deserved and he worked every day toward the goal he set for himself. He used money earned from work to pay his rent, just as I am doing now.
Ben joined the Marines my junior year in high school. He sacrificed a lot and did not get to come home to see us very often. He started a new life, forcing himself to make friends in a new place and, just like Nick, worked every day toward his goal. He put himself through a lot so that his G.I. Bill could pay for his education.
When I decided to go to college, I moved across the country to a university where I didn’t know a single person. It was Ben who inspired me to do this, and I felt safe in the knowledge that I would be able to make new friends and start a happy life at Weber State.
Being kind gets you further
When we were younger, Ben and his friends caused trouble. This is what I remember from when we were children. He was the boy who got in fights at school. He once made a club and said I had to flip them off to join. When I did, he immediately told my mom the naughty thing I just did. He tricked me, which shouldn’t have surprised me, because that’s just how he was.
Sometime between then and now, he changed. It must have been when I was away at college, or he was away in the Marines. I didn’t see it happen. I came home one year, and when I was fighting with my sister, he stopped us and told us to love each other. He made us appreciate one another, because we are each others’ best friend.
Now that we are no longer children, Ben is one of the kindest people I know. He doesn’t yell or trick. He uses soft words and logic to ease my mind.
Support through the hard times
A few years ago, when my siblings and I attended the funeral of one of our childhood friends, we were all shaken. Kyle, who was two days older than me, was incredibly close to us, and his death was unexpected and sudden.
I traveled home that weekend for the ceremony, bracing myself for the inevitable tears. When we got to the mortuary, Nick held on to me tightly and let me cry into his arms. We were both devastated, but he stood strong as a rock to comfort me in my sadness.
Afterwards, we gathered around with our friends and talked about our favorite memories. Soon enough, the conversation turned into funny stories about our lost friends, and we were smiling and laughing at a funeral, but it did not feel disrespectful. My brothers shared memories about when they first met our friend, and their strength lifted me up for that moment, getting me through the rest of the weekend.
Nick dated his wife Michaela for almost nine years before they got married. I met her when I was 13 years old and I got to see them grow together, turning their college romance into strong, true love. Nick is generous with her and cares for her. Just being in their presence makes me appreciate their love for one another. Their wedding day this past summer was one of the happiest days of my life because I got to share in their joy during a moment we had all been waiting years for.
Both brothers have loved me and my sister as only brothers could. They have taught us independence, determination and commitment through their examples. They have led me to be kinder to everyone and to express my gratitude toward others. Because of these qualities I have gained from them, I believe I am stronger and a better influence on others.
I hope to someday find someone who is half the man they are, because I know I will be loved. They are two of my favorite people on this planet and I could not be more thankful that I got to spend my childhood with them.