Keith isn’t so little anymore. He is about to turn 27 years old and towers over me by about 6 or 7 inches. He is a husband, father, son, brother, hockey coach/referee and lastly a Marine. He will be deployed October 1st. He is a reservist and his home base is Huntsville, AL. In a few short weeks he will be reporting for duty in Huntsville and he will go to Afghanistan a few months later.
I’m writing about him because I will miss him. He is my little brother. We have a three-year age difference and fought constantly growing up. Even as adults, give us about 24 hour around each other and curse words start flying. Yet, I love my brother. He is hilarious. He can make a crowd up people start cracking up with just a few words. I almost choked on some food last weekend because he was showing me how is almost two-year old says yes to everything. He asked my nephew if he likes to eat cat poop. Of course Drew said yes because he says yes to everything right now and I had to spit my food out my plate or risk having Keith perform the Heimlich manuever on me.
Keith is a great dad. My nephew loves him so much and always wants his daddy to pick him up, toss him in the air or just wrestle with him. Keith loves his wife very much. They are that couple that you see out, holding hands, giving each other those looks that you just know without a doubt that they love each other.
I remember the day, when I was in college and my brother called me to tell me that he had signed up to be a Marine reservist and he was going to boot camp in about a week and a half. I thought he was joking. Then I was crying. I was so scared and mad at him. Even though we fight a lot, I didn’t want my brother joining the military. I didn’t want him to go overseas and be shot at by people who didn’t care if he was alive or not. I really, just couldn’t believe that he had joined the Marines.
My whole family went out to Paris Island when he graduated from boot camp. Boot camp graduation was surprisingly awesome. Never in my life, had I had a wish to join the military, but seeing those men and women marching in formation at their peak physical condition, I could understand why they wanted to join. It is such a team effort. Everyone supporting one another, a brotherhood/sisterhood. I was proud of my brother. He had chosen to do something that I would not do, but he is really good at being a Marine.
Now though, he is getting ready to be deployed. My family isn’t talking about the deployment openly. Each one of us is scared to tell Keith and his wife how they really feel. I’m scared that my brother won’t make it back. I’m so scared that his wife will have to raise their little boy by herself. I’m afraid that my nephew won’t remember his dad. Fortunately, while he is gone, they may be able to chat once in a while. But that little boy loves his daddy so much, I worry that once he starts talking he will keep asking my sister-in-law, “Where’s daddy?” How will she deal with it? How will my parents deal with it? Since they are divorced, they can’t lean on one another and express their fears that their only son might not come home. Maybe I shouldn’t be airing out my families personal matters online, but I don’t want to just start crying to my brother. He doesn’t need that now (at least, I don’t think he does).
I’m proud that my brother has found a calling in life that he enjoys. I am going to miss him while he is overseas and I pray that he will come home safely. I pray that my sister-in-law and nephew are going to be okay while Keith is gone. I pray that my parents will stay calm and away from the news as much as possible while Keith is deployed. And I pray that my brother can feel how much each of us loves him when he is so far away.
I love you little brother.