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I realized today that my “little” (aka 6’4″ and 200-odd pounds) brother has now been out of the military for three months. Since then we have spent a lot of time together, starting with walking me down the aisle at my wedding, cracking fart jokes all the way. Hey, at least I was laughing too hard to be nervous.

Next month, that same brother of mine officially enters his mid-20s. Despite his youth, he has seen far more of the ugly, violent side of this world than anyone should have to experience in their lifetime. Come to think of it, we have both been through a lot in the past few years. While he was off fighting battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, I was at home helping fight for our dad’s life. While the battles we fought were vastly different, in the end we each did what we had to do, and it has changed us both in myriad ways.

Now that we are getting to know each other as adults, it strikes me how much we are still the kids we have always been. We have always been pretty close, simply because we are the only people who can truly understand what it was like to grow up on the planet we came from. We spent our childhood traveling with our parents, and when we were at home in our isolated farmhouse in California, we didn’t have a TV. What’s more, our dad has always strongly resembled Santa Claus, which brought no end of attention and embarrassment to us in our school years. Our family, our travels, and our plain geekiness always set us apart from others, and as a result we grew closer to each other out of sheer necessity.

As adults, the bond we formed on Planet Primrose Lane is just as strong. To this day, we are equally as likely to make a crass joke or recount a line from the Simpsons as we are to discuss more serious matters like our dad, school, relationships, etc. No matter what the topic, our conversations tend to devolve into helpless laughter within a matter of minutes, with no one the wiser as to what exactly we’re talking about — least of all ourselves.

This morning, my brother and I went for a trail run in the woods. Both of our lives are in complete turmoil at the moment, as he transitions out of the military and back into school, and I transition out of work and into taking care of my family full-time. But for just that brief period of time, it was like he had never been gone at all, and everything was fine with our family and the world. It all just dropped away. For that short time, the only sounds to be heard were our feet splashing through the mud and the occasional echo of our loogies ringing out across the silence.

Sometimes, with the right person, the best therapy can be had by not talking at all.


“Treat history as a springboard, not as an anchor.”

- General John G. Medaris

When I Wrote It

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