At War

My little brother left last week for Basic Training. He is joining the Army and this is a big deal in a family where the most physical activity we engaged in is fighting over the last cupcake.

Caleb and I are almost exactly 9.5 years apart. My birthday is in December, his is in June. When he was little, Caleb and I spent a lot of quality time together. Mainly because, he needed naps and I needed a quiet place to read. I would put him down for his naps and read out loud to him in his room until he fell asleep. And then, I’d keep reading, snuggled in his bed with him until he woke up.

Once, during one of our nap times, Caleb, three years old at the time, looked up at me and told me he was my big brother. “Why?” I asked.
“Because big brothers watch out for people. So, I’m your big brother.”

My little-big brother has always wanted to protect us.

The year before this, my family moved from Texas to South Dakota. A transition that changed a lot about our family: we lost our accents, stopped calling every soft drink Coke and learned about snow. Caleb became enamored with the snowplow and would spend hours on the floor with his matchbox snowplow creating scenarios where the snowplow would save the day. He had a song: “Here comes the snowplow to save the daaaay! SNOOOWPLOW!” For a while, no one in the family could say the word snowplow without shouting it. SNOWPLOW!

My little-big brother has always wanted to save the day.

Like any little boy, he dreamed of war and glory. I have a file folder filled with pictures of war he drew me from ages 5-10. The only thing that really changes is how realistic the blood looks. When he was 4, he cracked us up by announcing, apropos of nothing, that “war is hell.”

My little-big brother has always wanted to be a hero.

I moved out of the house and Caleb got old, got good at sports, had a million girlfriends and even more friends. But Caleb was always friends with everyone. Our youngest brother, Noah, has Downs syndrome, and Caleb has always included Noah. Once, on a visit home, I asked Caleb where one of his friends was. They had been inseparable the last time I talked. “He’s just not cool anymore,” Caleb said. I had to ask a sister for what really happened. Apparently, his friend had made fun of Noah, and Caleb refused to hang out with him any more.

My little-big brother has always protected those weaker than him.

Before I got married, I took Caleb out to a movie. Afterward, as we ate ice cream and talked about how awesome Batman was, Caleb he asked me if Dave was a nice guy. He wanted to make sure, he said. He didn’t want his sister marrying a bad man. When I told him how great Dave was and that Batman was his favorite superhero, Caleb relented. “Okay, you can marry him. But if he isn’t good, I’m beating him up.”

My little-big brother has always wanted to protect us.

I’m scared for my brother. He’s 18 and talks about how excited he is to fight. To be in the action. To be tough. To be an Army man. He wants to drive tanks and when he told me this, I told him there were faster ways to die. We laughed. But I was only halfway kidding. But no matter how scared I am for him, I’m proud of him, because he’s doing what he’s always wanted to do.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...