My brother has been heavily on my mind and the calendar shows that it’s nearly the third week in August already. His birthday is next Sunday and each and every year he knows I’m waiting for him to come home as though he was off to war. I figure I’m probably heavily on his mind too, wherever he may be, but as he hiccups or feels the air of melancholy blowing on his face he doesn’t really remember why a patch of his heart belongs to me. Someone will probably tell him what his hiccups mean; someone is thinking about you. He may have an outlet like exercising, writing, or painting, that dissolves his unexplained loneliness. Whatever he is doing; I am there. Whatever I am doing; he is here.
Sisters would go years without seeing their brothers that went off to war, but off in the distance one random day his mature body returned with stories of another world. She would pull out the letter collection that he had sent her over the years just to show him her respectful sentimentalism. He had walked many miles and seen things she couldn’t even imagine, and she would ask him every question that came to mind as he took off his shoes. They only have a few moments before the family cut into their time, so every moment mattered again.
There’s the sister that longed for her brother to return from war and ran nearly a mile when she saw a uniformed figure in the distance only to run up to the postman, delivering death. Her eyes read the words a few times before her heart got the message and broke on the spot. There would be no more letters from the war, but in the end should could recite the few she had word-for-word.
I live 1,500 miles away from home, but my brother can find me pretty easily in those unique times when my house is silent, my heart is open, and my mind can imagine him walking in that door. His tall mature frame parading around my new house with an ear-to-ear smile. We would catch up and he would tell me stories from another place, another world, another time that he would show me when it was time.
I never got a letter and my brother will never return from war, but I got every moment indexed, every archived thought, and imagination on hand for his birthday homecoming. He may never return but every August he has a patch of my soul.
(Jeffrey Lee Ben)
8/23/1982 – 01/29/2001