I totally forgot to “publish” a post I wrote for Memorial Day. So, let’s just all pretend that it’s still Monday for a second.
10 years ago, Memorial Day’s only real significance to me was that my neighborhood pool opened and there was usually a jamming cookout that night.
But allow me to introduce you to my sweet “little” brother.
When 9/11 happened, I was a senior in college and he was a sophomore in college. While I was watching CNN in tears, he marched down to the Marine Corps recruiter and signed on the dotted line. He went to boot camp that summer, spent the next year in CA, came home to finish college, and was sent to Iraq the summer after he graduated. And I couldn’t be prouder of him.
Iraq was horrible for him- he was in a rough area, saw and did some things that he will probably never talk to us about, and has had some problems since coming home. He can’t count how many times he was thrown from vehicles because they came under fire. There are several occasions where he’s unsure if he lost consciousness or was just simply stunned after the concussion of an explosion. He actually had an IED land at his feet and not go off. He was standing next to a good friend when his friend was hit by a sniper and didn’t know for a week if he had survived or not. (He did, and after many surgeries, likes to tell people that he’s finally watertight again.) He’s doing better now and I feel very blessed to have him home in one piece when so many other families are not that lucky. If none of you have been through deployments on the family side of it, it’s torture. The hardest part is that he knows when he’s safe and when he’s not so he knows when to worry. The family doesn’t….so you just worry 24/7. And you stop watching the news. Because they only report on the bad and crying through dinner gets old really fast. Trust me.
For those of you who don’t know, I started experiencing symptoms of RA a month to the day after I learned about his deployment. I do not find this coincidental. I’ve always experienced stress physically rather than emotionally. Go figure. Does it suck? Yes. Are my achy joints worth having my brother home with us again? ABSOLUTELY. I would give up them up all over again if I thought it would keep him safe.
We all sacrifice things along the way. Sometimes it’s pretty shoes/clothes. Sometimes it’s an educational opportunity. Sometimes it’s activities we love because of physical limitations. But, I know personally, I haven’t chosen to give any of these things up but rather it was something I had to deal with. To choose to sacrifice a year of your life, of your time with your loved ones, and to embrace the possibility of sacrificing your life….the hugeness of it overwhelms me.
10 years later, Memorial Day is still a 3 day weekend. It still gives me pool time when Mother Nature doesn’t hate me. But, most importantly, it’s a time to say thank you and to say “I recognize that you have given up yourself to do something to protect me and the things that I hold dear.”