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You just never really know what something is like until you actually experience it. Empathy helps us imagine what it’s like, but that feeling only pales to the real thing. It’s like seeing a picture of an exotic fruit you’ve never seen before and you imagine its taste. Then you get to actually taste it and it tastes a little bit like how you imagined, but times a million.
Case in point. My brother being deployed. I knew it was going to be hard, I just couldn’t imagine how hard. The night before he left, my sister and I went to visit him on base. We met all his rowdy friends, and the only thought I had that whole time was, some of these guys aren’t going to make it back.
When I embraced my little brother as we said goodbye, I told him, “I don’t care what you have to do in order for it to happen, but you come back alive. You come back alive.”
He nodded and we drove away. I looked up at the stars that night and had an existential crisis. Why do we fight in wars? Why are we here? What’s the point of all this?
And it just got worse. Every day that passed was tougher than the last one. My sister, my rock, the toughest person I know, came home from work one evening and cried in my arms. I was preparing dinner and let the garlic burn on the stove until she caught her breath. Whenever I smell garlic cooking, I remember that evening.
We’d either always be refreshing google news or having the tv on CNN. One Saturday though. No one should have to go through what we went through that one Saturday, and we were the lucky ones. One Saturday, news broke that 4 Marines stationed where my brother was stationed, were killed. Names were being withheld until the families were notified. I ran to the front window and sat there for hours, my heart pumping so quickly whenever a car so much as slowed down in front of the house.
Lencho called and said he was okay. It felt like I was living inside a movie, or rather, like I should choose my words wisely bc someone’s going to write a movie of our inevitable tragedy. Is this the last time I was going to talk to him?
He came home though. He came home. #usmarines

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