I have returned from visiting my brother. I knew it would be hard. I knew it would be good. I knew it would be bittersweet. I knew it would be a farewell for a time, with no guarantee of ever seeing him again.
What i didn't know is that seeing him would make it all real.
Up until now, i have been able to pretend that he was going to be safe. I hadn't seen him, so i hadn't said goodbye, so he wasn't going anywhere. Now it's real. Now i know that he's leaving.
In class today, we had to all write down our most painful moments. It was not the most fun in-class assignment i've ever done. It got even worse when the professor read them all aloud (without names, of course).
Someone told a story of trying on prom dresses. While she was in the dressing room, her mother got a phone call and began crying. A helicopter had been shot down in Afghanistan. There had been at least three casualties, but there was not yet any confirmation on who they were. It was weeks before she found out that her brother was not dead.
As soon as i heard "Afghanistan", my whole body tensed up, and i started trembling. At the word "brother", i started to weep silently.
Because in about a week, my brother will be in Afghanistan. In about a week, i could be frightened at every phone call, shaking at every text message, breathless at every news report.
I didn't know it would be like that.