When my older brother told me he was joining the U.S. Army, I was obviously so incredibly proud... As selfish as it sounds, though, I was still really sad and (of course) scared.
Growing up, my brother and I bickered the way brothers and sisters do. He is four years older than i am, so the age gap made things difficult. I was the annoying and sometimes bratty little sister that wanted to be part of everything he did. My mother told us that once we become teenagers, there will be a shift in our relationship and things will change.
We became closer. We would drive around in his beat-up car, and listen to the same playlist we always did. We would go to the mall together and just goof around. He even started to bring me around his friends. We created as many memories as we could for the few months before he went to boot camp.
When we were growing up together, we were never apart. The longest we ever spent apart was a week or two when he went to summer camp, so I couldn't fathom what it would be like when he was gone for three months.
The day he left for boot camp was an emotional one. Our family was filled with "I love you"s and "Be safe". The first letter was the most exciting because we hadn't heard from him in a while. He told us about how challenging it was, and how homesick he was. Reading his letters and not hearing his voice was too strange for both my family and I.
He finally got to call once. He only had 45 minutes to talk and all we could do was pass the phone around every 5 minutes so we could all talk to him. He sounded sad. He did not sound like himself and I had wished I was there to cheer him on.
It has been 5 years since I have seen my brother. He is still in the military, but it is hard to talk with how busy he is. He also lives across the country, so the time zone changes things a little. He does not have enough money to take leave and fly to New York with his wife.
Every time he tells us he is going somewhere, my mom and I panic until he gets back. Sometimes that's a long time to panic.
He has his own life now and I have my own life in college, so keeping up with each other can be really difficult. We talk on birthdays and other holidays, sometimes in between, but it is not as easy as it seems.
There are so many days I want to be mad that I no longer have a close relationship with my brother the way I used to. I tell my mom all the time how frustrating it is and I hate how selfish it makes me feel. But, my mom is always reminding me that our country comes first, and my brother's job comes first.
I wish I could stay mad, but I know my brother is fighting for our country. Without him, I wouldn't have the freedom and rights that I do as a young woman or as a citizen. I am so immensely proud of my brother, even from 3,000 miles away.
I just hope I see him soon.