My little brother is exactly 16 months younger than I am. Growing up, he drove me crazy. But, in spite of that, he and I were allies. I am one of five kids and there is a seven year split between the next youngest in our family and myself. For the most part, the “older three” had their own lives by the time that Nathan and I came along.
Regardless of any petty arguments, and believe me we had a lot, I was always so aware that he was “cooler” than I was. His relationships with others were effortless because he genuinely cares about people. Beyond that, he is contagious. His laughter can lift me out of a bad mood in seconds.
My little brother is on the right, my oldest brother is on the left
The reason that I chose to write about my brother today is that he has been an active duty Army service member for seven years. It seems like forever. I remember so vividly each of the calls I have received over the years saying goodbye and that he loves me right before he deploys. It never gets easier.
Nathan dancing with my niece at my wedding
As close as we are, it always feels like a part of me is gone while he is. When things don’t go as planned, and a comrade is hurt or worse, I hurt with him. I never truly understood the full sacrifice that family members and spouses of service men/women make, until getting this taste of the worry, the fear and the panic every time an article or news story sounds too close to home.
In so many ways, I look up to Nathan. In high school, he ran cross-country, but never hit his physical stride until basic training. All of the sudden, this lean, strong creature took the place of my baby brother. The best part is, it never has changed him. He is strong, he is well trained, and, he is still my brother and still has the characteristics that I have always respected so much about him. During his journey towards fitness, he has become an amazing runner with incredible endurance. I barely let him get off the plane before I want to go on a run with him. Every time, I think, with the amount of training I’ve done THIS time, I will kick his hiney! And, I never do. And even though, I cannot perform to his level, I always perform at my peak when running with him. He is so encouraging and always knows the right time to have me “shake out my arms” or “dig deep”.
Nathan with my son, Aiden
This Veteran’s Day is particular; I am lonesome and homesick for him. I never tell him enough how proud I am of him. But, this is one year; I will not make that mistake. He is my hero, in every way, and I never dreamed I would learn so much from my snot-nosed little brother.