Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Half A World Away

I just talked to my brother, Travis. He is currently stationed in Iraq, on a Coast Guard ship patrolling the Gulf against belligerant Iraqi gunboats looking to blow up the oil derricks. At least that's what he can tell me. I suspect there may be more to it.

They are out for 21-day cruises, then they come back into dry land for 6 days. He is currently in Bahrain, enjoying his short stint of freedom.

I love talking to him, but as much as he entertains me with funny stories, we have been ignoring the big white elephant - how we both are handling what life has chucked at us.

I want to know how he's doing being so far from home for so long. How he's doing being on the front lines of a war. A WAR, people! I don't care how grown up he thinks he is being married with a child, he's my little brother. The one I cut out of a tree. The one that busted my head open by body slamming me into the couch. The one I locked out of the house when he wouldn't take out the trash, so he threw a rock at me and broke the front door and I got in trouble while he ran off into the woods to hide with a bag in which he'd packed a handful of Tootsie Rolls and clean underwear. The one that took Jessica and Kelli to the beach and taught them to boogie-board and the fun of an underwater camera. The one that taught Jessica how to drive a go-cart. The one that did donuts on the jetski until Kelli flew off, and she came up sputtering and demanding "Do it again, Uncle Travis!"

The one that put on his dress blues, white hat and gloves and carried Jessica's coffin to the limo, and never once stumbled through his tears.

He wants to know how I'm doing, facing the rest of my life without two of my children. He wants to make sure Sugar is treating me right. He wants to make sure I'm treating myself right. Am I ready to go back to work? He wants to know how Maddy is handling things, and would she like to come to California when he comes home (Um, I'm going to go with Hell Yeah on that one).

He told me today that he wears a patch on his Kevlar vest which has three roses and the girls' names on it. When he gets back, he's going to give it to me.

Today we finally talked about all this, and he started to cry. I had to go in an empty office so I could cry too. He cried because he's tired of being there, and he misses his family and he wants to come home. I cried because I miss him and I want him to come home, too. We cried because the girls are gone. We both sat on the floor, leaned our heads against the walls and cried into our phones, wishing we were half a foot away from each other instead of half a world away.


Zookeeper said...

My heart goes out to both of you. How wonderful that you have each other to lean on, even if it's long-distance leaning. Hang in there!

MamaB said...

My heart and prayers go out to you both. I am crying with both of you. Thank you for sharing such an emotional moment. I just don't know what to say...Thank God for little brothers who you can lean on and cry with. Without my big brother (a former marine) I don't know how I would have dealt with my Father's death. Many blessings to you and your family, may your brother get home safe and thank you to him for serving this country and what keeps up free.

Sally said...

I, too, am crying with both of you. My brother was in VietNam and it was a horrible time for my family. Shortly after he got home, my Mom died. I was only 14 at the time, but it was devastating nonetheless. Now that I am a mother, I can't even begin to imagine losing either of my children. My heart aches for you. My blessings to you, Maddy, your brother, Sugar, your dad and everyone else you hold dear.

Frogdancer said...

Family are the best. They're always there for you when the chips are down. He sounds like a keeper!

Beautiful post.

(Sorry for the brevity. I've been correcting essays and i think I'm still in teacher mode. A+ )

Michelle said...

The strenght and support of brothers...sorry your is so far away. It sound like you could use a good shoulder to cry on.
This post had to be hard to write, thanks for sharing the good times and bad with us. We are all with you and now with your brother. May god keep him safe.

Jennifer said...

And I'm seriously praying that he will come home soon - to stay. Because that sucks.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your sadness. I just don't know what to say. Your words are so touching. I sit here in sadness for you. Hang on tight, your brother will be home soon. We are here for you and your family.

Kelly said...

The image of you both sitting there with tears in your eyes is so striking. I'm sorry for it, yet glad that you can let it all out.

You and your brother sound wonderfully close. How fantastic that you have each other!

Melody said...

You never fail to choke me up, you have written so beautifully about something so painful. If I could, I would give you the perfect post award... gotta figure out how to do that one.

Holly McCaig said...

saying silent prayers for you - we too are experiencing it with a loved one over there. it's sad.

MP said...

There isn't much to say is there..first off..if you email your brother would you tell him Thank You for me.. I think if the entire world said thank you it wouldn't be enough.. I can feel your love and pride through the internet, is that possible?
You are blessed to have each other.. xoxo

Andrea said...

And now, you made me cry. I can only hope my kids grow up with the same kind of bond you and your brother have. That's some good support right there.

And next time you talk to him, thank him for his service for me, wouldja?

mn said...

there are not so many siblings in the world who look out for each other or can be there for each other. you are fortunate in this and how proud you must be of him.
there's nothing i would want more than to see a soldier reunited with his family. i hope he comes home soon peacefully and safely.