When is He Coming Home?

1292932_10201908271497166_1847089643_oThe answer to that question hurts my heart, which is why I haven’t written this much sooner.

Let me back up. Way way back.

I only have one sibling. My brother AJ is 18 months older than me, and we were raised like twins. For most of our lives, we’ve done everything together. We built pillow forts late at night from when we were little until the week before he left. We watched the Helm’s Deep battle 18 times in a row once. We talked about everything. We graduated together. We had the same friends and the same inside jokes.

My brother is one of my best friends. He was always there for me, whether I needed a hug, help with something, or someone to listen to me chatter, cry, or rant.

In March, AJ shipped out to Marine boot camp in San Diego. I’m not good with change, and goodbyes. I miss him desperately. Everyone keeps saying “Oh, he’ll be home in June! It’s not so much longer. It’s not a big deal!” Well, they’re not that blunt, but that’s the jist. They’re right, he’s home in June, but only for about a week. After that, he’s back to San Diego, then to Virginia, then to God knows where. For the next 5 years, minimum.

5 years is a long time.

On Easter, I repeatedly almost corrected my mom on how many place settings I should set out, because AJ isn’t here and it threw off my count. Almost every night, I expect him to walk into my room, give me a hug, and ask if I want to talk. But he never does.

The truth is, my brother isn’t coming home. Not really. He’s not coming home to me, and our relationship will never be like it was. Once boot camp is over, I’ll get to see him again, but things will never be the way they were. I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that if I get married in the next 5 years, there’s a good chance he won’t be there. He won’t be here to celebrate with me when I graduate college. One season of our life is over, and I wasn’t ready.

…A small fact that keeps me going: 42 days until I get a hug.

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Bonus silly picture, from a couple years ago. Horrid phone quality, I know, but that’s not the point.

Introducing: Batchman and Hatwoman! Underrated and over-costumed super heroes, decked out in finery from a friend’s basement. And kitchen.

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15 thoughts on “When is He Coming Home?

  1. God’s blessings as you wait. I see my two oldest in your awesome picture of you and your brother. My son is also in boot camp at the same time and his 17 month older sister is about to give birth to her first. He is going with us to see her right after boot camp. They are the oldest of nine kids and I feel your pain in change and setting less places at Easter and how some things will never be the same but hold onto your strong relationship with your brother. That doesn’t have to change. I stare in wonder at your picture and at the times which have been similar with my kiddos. Yeah, you left me in tears. Please don’t despair of your relationship. Hugs and empathy from Indiana.

  2. Erika, your relationship with AJ has, from my perspective, been one that I think is a phenomenal example of loving siblings! Chapters in life aren’t always easy to close out, for sure. Thinking of you all.

  3. Peace be with you. My “little” brother is also in San Diego right now. But he’s 21 and I already had to miss him 4 years while I was in school. I hope you’re able to write a lot!

  4. Erika Joy. Such a beautiful young lady. We are never ready for loss. No matter how hard we try and plan for it, it sneaks up on us and we feel as if something has been wrenched from our very soul. You are truly grieving a death. A death of what “once was”, your relationship as brother and sister sharing everything together. Take time to grieve that, it cleanses the soul. But it doesn’t have to end this way. You will be introduced to a new person…the brother that is and will be. He will still be your A.J., but refined by God to become the man that God wants him to be. You will be close again, establishing a new relationship forged by God. Your children will know one another, and a new chapter of relationship will begin. Stay in the moment Erika Joy, it is the only thing that we have. And God is holding both of you, in this moment. I love both of you. U.M.

  5. Love the way you can share your feelings. You are about the same age as I was When I was your age, your Mom and A. Sharon – both – basically left our home at the same time. Though I should not say this, I still felt devastated, despite having 2 brothers at home, and a twin at that. Your Mom was my room partner, despite being 4 years older. She went off to U of I as a Junior, and A. Sharon left home to prove she could ‘do it on her own’. I remember the fact that we weren’t going to be able to talk when we needed, or to share clothes any more. I know that last part sounds funny, but when you are use to just hand-me-downs, sharing clothes from a sibling is just more fun! It was hard for a while, but I learned to reach out & go visit. Unfortunately, it made me more independent, knowing I could not fall back on them. I also got closer to my Mom at that time. I think the luck you have these days is technology…to text, to Skype, or Snapchat, or what ever new technology will come along over the next couple of months…you have such a venue of communicating in the future. This boot camp was not just AJ’s boot camp, it was yours too…to wean you as well. Weaning is never a fun process, but a necessary one in the end if done right. You will find a new routine with your brother, as I have with my two. Jobs, wives, new nieces and nephews enrich their lives and change circumstances, but you will find sibling time… you just need to plan it. It’s inevitable circumstances will change, but your bond never will. luvm, A. Sandra & family.

  6. Pingback: The Man is a Marine | Warring Against Reality

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