Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Brother, My Soldier

I remember the day my brother was born. It was a Sunday and very early in the morning. I remember being taken to Grandma's house to wait. She tucked me into the hide-a-bed but I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned for what seemed like an eternity. I was so excited. Would I finally get the brother I had wanted for years?!

August 5th. Neil Armstrong, Thomas Lynch, Mark Mulder, Herb Brooks....all celebrated their birthdays on this day. But only one little person mattered to me.

Thomas David. 

There was a bond between us from the first day we met that I just can't explain. Even though we are nine years apart, it feels as if we're twins. We can finish each other's sentences, have conversations without saying a word and are so much alike in every way.

Not saying that we've never argued. We went through a time when he drove me nuts! He was entering puberty. By this time, I was newly married and trying to find my way in the adult world. He was newly hormonal and his only quest in life was to be obnoxious. Yet I loved him and our bond remained strong.

Then there was the time I became his Guardian/Mother-figure when he was 15. It was my turn to annoy him as I became extremely overprotective. Though he now realizes I did it out of love and fear, at the time he couldn't see it. I remember having to make house rules and setting curfews for him, overseeing his homework while he went to a private school and then homeschooling him, making sure he did his chores and worrying about him fitting in with friends and if he was dating the right girl. Disciplining was also my job. It wasn't fun for me and I know it wasn't for him. Yet he loved me and our bond remained strong.

I remember one night, he was 16 and borrowed our car to drive from Big Lake to Minneapolis to see his girlfriend. I tried to be nonchalant about the entire situation and calmly handed him the car keys, though inside I was dying and imagining the worst. I just wanted to keep him at home with me, safe and untouched by any danger. A minute turned into an hour, an hour into two and two into....past curfew. We had no cell phones then. I paced back and forth and watched down the driveway for headlights. Over an hour past curfew and I began making calls to hospitals, fearing that my worst nightmare had come to pass. My brother was a trustworthy teen and responsible. This wasn't like him to be late! Two hours after curfew...lights in the driveway! Relief, quickly followed by anger, flooded over me. He walked through the door and I began crying and screaming at him. Not bothering to ask why he'd  been late. He had simply lost track of time.

Now we're adults. He is my best friend. He is my life. He is my Hero.

Tom has been there through thick and thin. He has held my hand, held me up and been my rock through many difficult and heart wrenching times in my life. He's made me laugh and created so many fun and precious memories for me. He has been the kind of man and uncle that my children look up to and adore. He's a wonderful role model to them.

My brother has the kindest heart and is the most giving soul. He is a Good Man and those are hard to find in this world.

This past February, he told me he wanted to join the Army. A lifelong dream of his. There was nothing standing in his way at the moment and he was grabbing the opportunity. My heart dropped. Yet I said nothing except, "That's awesome! Go after your dream! Live life with no regrets." He signed up. He was sworn in. His time to head to Basic was set. It was so unreal to me. I knew it was real but kept avoiding the reality.

The day we went to sign the papers that made me his Power of Attorney, reality hit me like a brick wall at full speed. I held a brave face. Inside my heart wrenched in pain. We left the bank and went our separate ways. I got into my truck and began driving. And broke down sobbing. Now it was real. It was too real.

Our country is at war and my brother joined up to be a Cav Scout. Images of the night I handed the keys over to him washed over me. I remembered the fear I felt and the love the drove that fear. Again, I just wanted to keep him at home with me. Safe and untouched by any danger. But I love him and will support him. No matter what. I want him to be happy. No matter what.

He is now halfway through his OSUT training. We spent the weekend with him for Family Day. We sat in the theater in Fort Knox impatiently waiting for the ceremony to end so that we could finally hug him. The soldiers marched outside and got into formation. The moment I saw him in uniform, tears came to my eyes and pride overflowed in my heart. I could see the happiness and satisfaction he felt in his eyes. There was no doubt in my mind that he wasn't where he was supposed to be at that very moment. He will soon find out his orders. I pray he won't be deployed into a war zone. I pray for his safety. I  pray for his happiness.

I cannot lie~ I worry daily that his new Soldier status will be the thing that takes him away from me. Permanently. I honestly don't know how I could live life without him in it. But I have determined not to let my fear dictate how I live my life or control my actions. We will live life one day at a time the way it was meant to be enjoyed.

For now.....I will continue to hold, support, and love my Soldier, my Best Friend, my Hero, my Life....My Brother.

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