I believe in unconditional sibling love. Most siblings cry when they say good bye to an older brother or sister going off to college. The choice college is usually in the same country, same state if you’re lucky. Saying good bye to a sailor is a little different. Iraq is on another continent, another hemisphere even. But even though it is far away, I did not expect to cry when saying good bye to my brother Ryan.
Ryan is four years older. The age difference comes out in our bickering. I always take it too far; he always gets frustrated by me. He always searches for my weaknesses; I always fight back. Sometimes, we end up grounded or punished in our rooms. When I was eight years old, I crossed the line. We had been arguing about something completely pointless. Then I screamed, “I wish you had never been born!” His reaction? He just stared back, as if he was hiding his hurt. My mistake had been saying it loud enough so that my mom could hear from the kitchen. She was so angry with me. Through the entire lecture she gave, I still did not understand the hurt in my words—until now.
Ryan is twenty years old now. He came home the weekend before Thanksgiving to break the news to us. He explained that in June he would be deployed, but not to Japan like we had been told. “The Navy’s needs have changed,” he said. He would be making reconnaissance missions—in Iraq. My family and I had previously assumed he would be pretty safe, staying away from the mostly landlocked war-zone country. But we were wrong.
When Ryan went back to Jacksonville, I couldn’t help but think about his deployment. We always fight over minute things, but they occasionally get out of hand. I can’t possibly imagine him leaving for six months and coming back completely changed. Will we still fight when he comes back? Will he be glad to get away from his pestering sister? So many questions fill my head. All I know is that when he comes home for Christmas, our time will be cherished. We will forget about arguing and bickering, because this is a time for family. Iraq is a dangerous place and if anything should happen, I would regret not getting along.
So as he comes home for the holidays, I believe that we will get along. I believe that we will forget our past arguments, and pretend that he is a normal student coming home for the holidays. I believe that he still loved me that day I yelled at him, and I believe in unconditional sibling love.
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