Building the Bond


Cadence Rulo and her brother Caleb Rulo in their childhood home. Even as children the two were very close. Photo courtesy of Cadence Rulo

As I sat in my childhood bedroom it was plain, empty. It used to be filled with butterfly stickers flying around the walls, bright pink curtains hiding the windows, and stuffed animals covering my tiny bed. It was my safe place.

Until the age of five I grew up in my father’s childhood home. My older brother and I made it our castle to defend from dragons, our 4.5 star restaurant because there was always room for improvement, my hair salon, and our home. When my mom told me we were going to go stay with my great grandma for a while, I was confused. I didn’t understand why we had to leave and why so soon. I didn’t want my castle to fall and my restaurant to close, but it did. 

Growing up, I always knew that my brother and I weren’t dealt the best cards. He grew up as the kid raised by two teenagers and I was the second accident that followed four years later. Having young parents was fun, but seeing my dad at night and weekends and my mom constantly stressed brought five-year-old me into the real world at a younger age than most. 

When we moved into my great grandma’s house it was anything but what was expected. Instead of sleeping soundly in my own room, I slept hearing my dad snore inches away from me, my brother kicking his blankets off to get comfortable, and my mom awake staring at the ceiling. My parents did the best they could to make it comfortable. Each of us had our own little space in the basement. My brother had the left corner of a wall and I took the right while my mom and dad were in front of me with a makeshift wall separating us. 

Growing up in this kind of fashion made me cherish my family more than most do. At 18, my brother is my best friend, anytime I need him I know I can call and he will be right there. He is the person I look up to most in this world, my light in the darkest of places. 

My family shares a unique, unbreakable bond. No matter how big a fight we get into, I know at the end of the day they did, and will do, everything in their power to give me the tools to build myself a happy, safe life. 

The second my parents were able to figure out a way to get us our own place, they did. A year or so later, we moved into our own house and have been there ever since. No matter what hurdle, how hard of a struggle it would have been, my parents gave my brother and I the best childhood they could. However, I always knew the reality of the world. I knew how hard things could be and how things could change within a matter of seconds. 

The older I got, the more confused and angry I was. My friends would complain about the smallest of things and talk about how their family was ‘struggling,’ but from where I stood they didn’t know what struggle looked like. Struggle became a trend, everyone wanted to be the kid who ‘had it rough’ when in reality they left school to go to their big houses and had someone they paid to cut their grass. 

My brother and I often talked about those kinds of people and how they would have lost their minds growing up how we did. I came to realize how ungrateful the world is. People do not see the constant hard work my father put in to make sure we had enough to buy groceries and pay the bills.

To this day, this is not a period of time my parents are proud of. However, I am. My parents never gave up trying, they made that basement our home. I may not have had my butterfly stickers and pink curtains anymore, but my childhood prepared me to be a part of the real world and for that I am forever grateful.