Bring Him Home
A sister joins her voice to the call for troops to return.
Thursday, August 21, 2003
My brother Nathan and most of his battalion are somewhere around the periphery of Baghdad. He told us last week that we won''t hear from him for 45 days. So every time I hear news of a dead soldier, killed anywhere between Baghdad and Tikrit, I panic. Then I feel relieved when it''s a dead soldier with the 4th Infantry, not the 162nd Infantry, which my brother belongs to. And then I feel terribly guilty. My brother''s still alive, but someone else''s brother has died. I want him home.
Nath somehow found a phone last Saturday and called his new wife, Lindsey. "I''m here," he told her. "I arrived safely." But he only had a few seconds to talk.
He can''t tell us where he is or what his mission is. It''s classified.
The last time I spoke with him, twice on Aug. 6, I tried to trick him to find out what he''s up to--"So, it looks like you will be using that urban warfare training?"--but he''s too smart for me. I asked him if his mission sounded like it would be scary and he said it might be.
He called twice before he left, the first time to tell me what songs he wanted played at his funeral. "Not that I''m planning on dying," he said. "But if I said this to mom she would freak out. And Lindsey would get mad at me."
I asked him what songs.
"''Mr. Roboto'' and ''Come Sail Away,''" he said. He thought he was funny. Those are lame songs, I told him. No, he said: "Just the right amount of gayness."
He called a second time to wish me happy birthday because he''ll be in Iraq and won''t be able to call me this week. I asked him to find me a birthday present in Iraq''s booming shopping district.
He "joked" that he''d bring me home an ear.
Before this latest mission, Nath had been in Kuwait, guarding a Navy port, since April, with a brief trip to Basra. While he''s been gone, Lindsey graduated from her Master''s program and found a job as a sixth-grade teacher in Portland, Ore. He sends her flowers every month on the anniversary of their wedding.
Also in his absence our sister Suzanne got married on July 4.
Red, white and blue lights decorate my parent''s house and back porch. My dad tacked them up for my sister''s wedding rehearsal dinner, July 3. My mom says she''s leaving them up until after my brother''s welcome home party. We don''t know when he''ll be stateside yet--December seems to be the current rumor--but still my mom talks about Nath''s homecoming party constantly.
I don''t know if anyone else knows what those lights mean. Most people probably drive by and think my parents are the type of people who leave Christmas lights up year round. They probably think the lights look tacky, which is what I would think if it wasn''t my own family. But because they shine for my brother, I''m proud of those lights.
Ask my little niece Elizabeth where Uncle Nate is, she says: "He''s a soldier." To her, a soldier is more than a job. It''s also a place.
Sometimes she adds, "he''ll be home tomorrow, when it snows. And we love him."
Tomorrow, in Elizabeth''s three-year-old mind, means any time other than today. So I''m guessing "when it snows," means distant future. And we love him.