The Soul Patch of War

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


3 thoughts on “The Soul Patch of War

  1. This is beautiful. One day you will do something GREAT with you gift. You are destined leave a big mark on this world. I know it.

    P.S. Not cool to make me tear up when I’m at work.

  2. we went to the mountain for Jeffrey’s birthday. I haven’t been in several years and just felt the need to go. Sometimes you just don’t want to be reminded of the evil in the world that could end his life then dispose of him in such a disrepectful way but it happened. I didn’t tell anyone I was going so there were just a few there. The mountain looked beautiful this trip…the cross we placed there looked smaller. We gathered round and I asked everyone to say something positive that could come out of a horrible tragedy such as this and we managed to think of different things. We said a prayer and I prayed as I always do to be able to truly forgive the one responsible for Jeffrey not being with us…and I have…I would still like for them to be able to get it off their chest…”the truth will set you free”. Blake went altho he doesn’t like to go because it makes him sad and angry. I just thanked God for giving him to me for 18 yrs. Happy 27th Birthday, my precious, beautiful son!

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