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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My baby bro

My younger brother came to have lunch with me today. One of them, anyway... they're twins.

Here are the three of us, probably around Christmas in 1984. Damn cute, aren't we?

Unfortunately, we're all grown up now, and although we still have the looks (haha), we certainly aren't that cute.

Anyway, it has me reflecting on some things this afternoon. This post is a result of that reflection.

Tyler and Trevor are 23 years old. Trevor just got back home at the end of February. Before that, he was in training for the Army National Guard Reserves for about seven months. In July, he left for BASIC training in South Carolina, and then in October, he transferred to San Antonio where he completed his advanced training.

I'm not going to lie. I was absolutely devastated when I found out Trevor had made the decision to join the National Guard. I was hysterical. I begged him not to do it. Used every ploy in the book to try to get him to see "the light"--logic, guilt, bribery, threats--you name it. But really, I was upset for three reasons:

1) I don't agree with the war. I told myself months ago that I was going to stay away from politics on this blog, even though I am pretty hardcore about them these days. So I won't get into details. But as much as I appreciate the fact that the men and women in our armed services volunteer to put their lives at risk for the well being of our country, I don't agree with the reasons they are currently in the middle east. There are people who try to skew statements like this and take it from "I don't agree with the war" to "I don't support our troops." There is a big difference, I assure you. So please, don't be that person.

2) I just knew Trevor would end up in that war. The armed services aren't what they used to be, and there are fewer and fewer people every day who enlist. As a result, soldiers are spending one, two, three tours in Iraq or Afghanistan. Now, eight+ months removed from the panic I initially felt, this is one of the reasons I'm proud of what Trevor is doing. On the other hand, it's also one of the reasons I knew from the beginning that these Army recruiters were going to tell Trevor every lie they possibly could to get him to sign his life away (both figuratively and let's face it, quite possibly literally) on that piece of paper.

At that time, Trevor had already made up his mind and he was 22 and naive enough to believe everything he was told. No matter how much the people in his life told him not to. Now, of course, he has learned. And he's currently living with many of the consequences of those initial (and subsequent) lies. It's funny--not haha funny, but interesting funny. Today at lunch, he was telling me the story about how he negotiated a price on his new car last week. He said the salesman was putting on an act about some things, and that he (Trevor) had said to himself, "Listen, dude, I've spent the last eight months with people lying to my face... I know you're full of shit."

I had to smile. It's just one of the many ways he has changed from the kid he was when he left eight months ago.

3) I was scared out of my mind. I've grown up equally close to both of my younger brothers. With a single mom, we did a lot of things together throughout our childhoods and teen years, and we are a close-knit little family because of it. However, Trevor and I always butted heads more than Tyler and I did. I guess Trevor and I have more conflicting personalities. The worst times were during the year after I had graduated from college and I was still living at home--whew, Trevor and I fought like cats and dogs. Over everything, from emptying the dishwasher to his skankass girlfriend who I hated so much (I can use the word "skankass" to describe her in "public" now because they have long since broken up, thank god).

Regardless of all that, I don't think you have to be a relationship genius to see that we obviously love each other. So yeah, I was scared of him getting shipped off to Iraq or Afghanistan and having something happen to him. I got a lot of "but it's an honorable thing he's doing" explanations. And of course I agree with that, but come on... that's supposed to make someone feel better about potentially losing a loved one? It's just who I am... my mind skipped all other possibilities and automatically went to worst case scenario.

And not only all of that, but I was upset over something extremely insignificant in the grand scheme of things: my wedding. It was the least of my concerns, but it was still a big one, and has continued to be. It's a big day in my life, and I think it's only natural to really want your brother, one of your closest family members, to be there with you. I knew that he would be finished with training in February and that there was a really big chance he would be deployed shortly after. Deployed for 12+ months. And completely miss June 2008 at home.

Since he signed on the dotted line, all any of us have been able to do is wait and see. Now we're really at the most crucial "wait and see" time, since he is now done with all of his training and is sitting idly at home. The most recent report we're hearing from his "higher ups" is that he (conveniently for us) missed the deployment date for the groups in this area--they were deployed earlier this year when he was still in training. Therefore, they are currently telling Trevor he will not be deployed any time in the near future. I want to believe them, but I will always be skeptical.

Lord knows I hope he doesn't go anywhere. Ever. But if he does, it's just another hurdle we'll be sure to hurl ourselves over. And we'll worry about him every minute he's gone. I'm still hoping it will never come to that. Not only for my brother, but for everyone over there--I really wish they could all come home.

But for right now, I'm staying positive (but cautiously so). I'm picturing my wedding day with both of my goofy twin brothers in attendance. Not only in attendance, but as groomsmen. Those are memories--some sober, some drunken--that we'll make and be able to relive together for the rest of our lives... and I so look forward to that. And Trevor has to be there for them. Not only for the wedding, but for everything after... summer, football, Thanksgiving, Christmas... everything.

I can honestly say he is a different person than he was when he left in July. He's still Trevor, but he seems kinder, has less of a temper, is more thankful for what he has and what he's been given, and he seems motivated to figure out what he's going to do with his life moving forward.

I'm grateful to have him home.

Oh, and rest assured... I'm sure this whole lovefest is only temporary and we'll go back to fighting like cats and dogs real soon. :)


Katy said...

I'm a long time reader, first time commenter(?). First, let me say that I love your blog. You're really creative and totally inspiring.

I also wanted to let you know that I understand how you might be feeling right now. I share or have shared nearly every feeling you discussed. It is difficult to express the combination of concern and pride.

When I met my FI, he was in the Navy. I quickly learned that there are no certainties when it comes to the military. We put off the wedding until he was out and had a civilian job. While my fiance will be in attendance (fingers crossed haha), his cousin and many of his closest friends won't be able to come due to their status as active military.

I'm hoping for the best for you. Something else the military taught me...don't worry about things you can't help, it's a waste of time and energy.

If you ever want to vent about it, feel free to e-mail me!

Jaclyn said...

So I discovered your blog on here awhile ago while I was creating my wedding blog... of course mine is not NEARLY as creative as yours... but I have got some great ideas from you!!

My little sister, who just turned 20, joined the Army when she turned 18. She was wisked off into boot camp, and then more trainings, then off to Washington, then what do you know... off to Iraq. Gee what a surpsise.

She's been in Iraq for almost 1 year now. Hopefully she will be making it home for my wedding in August. She's due back the end of July.

I feel ur pain, I was completely devastated when she left. And it took me over a year to finally come to terms. She came home for a mid-tour break and was a grown woman. Still her same 'ol goofy self, but she had a new life. And I respected her for that. SO I'm right there with ya. It's a rough life being part of a military family... ESPECIALLY when you are planning a wedding! Goood Luck!

Linda said...

I hope your brother doesn't get shipped before your wedding or after. We honestly need the National Guard here to help with things like natural disasters, fires, etc. I appreciate that your brother joined the military. You and your family are sacrificing a lot. Good luck.

Katherine said...

I can also relate. My fiance is currently in Afghanistan. He proposed in April before he deployed in May and so I've been on my own planning. He wont be back until August and we get married in September. The hardest part for me planning this whole thing is not being certain of the date. We've given it our best estimate and have written a "military clause" into all of our contracts in case of cancellation or rescheduling, but it's been a PIA. Who knows when block leave will fall and if it will overlap our wedding date.

It's also difficult to do the wedding planning alone. I sometimes feel like I have the ring and I'm planning my wedding, but where the heck is that groom? I have to say, it's a little depressing going to other wedding related events and being the only one there without my SO.

We're crossing our fingers he will make it home, along with his best man, in time for the wedding.

I hope too that your brother will be there for your wedding, but like Katy said...try not to worry about the things you can't help.