Some months earlier my older brother passed away at age 49. Only now am I comfortable sharing a bit of that news here on this blog. His was a life marked by a myriad of self-inflicted wounds, deep seated pain and uncertainty that ultimately led to an early death. We knew it could happen…but the sense of loss when the call came that informed us he was found dead was no less when it did happen.
He was a Marine, a combat veteran, and perhaps left too much of something of himself upon the sands of the Middle East all those years ago. He joined the military in great part to confirm his own Americanism, and his desire to be among the toughest of the tough, but years later he did hint that the realities of modern warfare resembled little of what he had expected. I do know my brother was different when he returned, like a man attempting to escape from something just behind him only he could see.
We came from the same mother but different fathers – a difference we were not made aware of until just weeks before his death and approximately a year after our mother had passed. I sometimes wonder if he gave up after that information was revealed to him. Our relationship, our shared challenges in growing up as we did, was one of very few emotional anchors in his life. He often struggled with the somewhat complicated history of our family, and likely struggled more when we both realized it was even more complicated than previously known and that so much of its links to people and events that were long kept hidden “for our own good”, felt more like lies than intended acts of protection.
I said goodbye to my brother with family and friends last fall with a proper wake, and now I do so again here with a song that captures the melancholy essence of his spirit, and represents the still unbroken bond of two brothers who shared a childhood that was indeed, unique, but also not without moments of genuine love, happiness, and the promise of a future I wish he had taken more time to get to know. He was a son, a father, a brother, a friend, and a soldier who passed much too soon.
D.W. Ulsterman is an author and freedom-loving political commentator.
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