No, I didn’t win the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. Ed McMahon didn’t show up on my doorstep with a big check, which is good since he’s dead, but it’s nearly that good.
My brother is back from Afghanistan!!
When I got the news tears of joy leaked from my eyes. Only military families understand the constant worry, stress and unease that permeates every bit of your life when a loved one is in harm’s way. When they return, it’s like a huge weight has been lifted and only then do you realize you’ve been holding your breath for years just waiting for bad news: killed in the line of duty, AWOL, missing in action, went crazy, killed everybody in sight and set their corpses on fire. You just never know.
Of course, he laughs and says it’s boring as hell in the war zone. I think he lies to keep my mom and I from losing our minds. The best lie was the one he told to his barely-English-speaking wife when he was in Iraq: “I’m just checking cars.” She envisioned him kicking tires on a used car lot. When I realized he was checking cars for bombs and bombers in the style of ‘The Hurt Locker’ I went to my knees.
He said it took “about an hour, two luffas, half a bottle of body wash, two razors, and a little bit of bleach” to get the stench of Afghanistan off him. Apparently the military doesn’t provide those things. I’m overjoyed he’s back safe and uninjured, which wasn’t the case when he returned from Iraq.
It’s been more than two years since I saw my brother and I can’t wait until he makes it up here for a visit in a couple of weeks. I always try to pry war stories out of him, but he pokes me, and says, “If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you” and he laughs. Somehow, even though he’s the funniest person I’ve ever met, I don’t think he’s joking.