Sit back and watch him fly...

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By Camille McClanahan



I for one am the worst when it comes to getting caught up in the day to day things but I received a phone call recently that stopped me dead in my tracks. I was standing in the grocery store when I noticed I had a voicemail from my baby brother. I must have looked like an idiot standing in the middle of the aisle as I could hardly move, mumbling under my breath the whole time about what on earth was he thinking to make such a impulsive decision and how he could leave such a message on my voicemail no less. 

He said nonchalantly that he was just checking in and to let his sister know that he had decided to join the military. I nearly dropped the phone. A surge of emotion went through me like no other. I was afraid. I was nervous. I was shell-shocked. I was sad but most of all, I was proud. For the first time in his 22 years, he had stood up for something he had wanted.

For the longest time, I had little contact with him, out of respect for the way he chose to live his life but kept tabs on how he was doing. 

My brother and I lived fairly sheltered lives. I watched as he tried to find his way, empathizing with him, because I had been in his shoes not so long ago. I watched as he graduated high school and started looking in to different colleges and careers, all the time wondering if that’s what he really wanted to do. 

My baby brother has become a man but I still see him as the 7-year-old I used to pick on relentlessly and who used to get on my nerves because he wanted to follow me around everywhere. Maybe that’s something that will never change. 

It’s hard to talk to him on the phone, hearing that deep voice and realizing that too much time has gone by. 

It is then that I long for those days back when we were kids and things were simple. Nothing stays the same and things are constantly changing. 

I guess the hardest thing I am trying to wrap my mind around is why the military. Not that there’s anything wrong with his choice, I assured him but it seemed to be such a rash decision.  He once told me that he wasn’t afraid of anything except being stuck with nowhere to go. He wanted to see the world. I have tried to pound in his head that we are never stuck, we always have options. The military is right for some and not others. 

I attempted to explain my worries about him being shipped out over seas and not coming back. The more we talked about it, the more I could see that he had never been more passionate about anything in his entire existence. 

I have come to the understanding that letting go is one of the hardest things us as human being will ever have to do. Letting go for our brother, our child or our sister to make their own decisions even if you don’t think it’s right for them. They have to figure out their way all by themselves and we just support them and are there when they fall and make sure they get back up. Encourage them. Be proud and tell them you love them. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Do it anyway.  

I suppose I’m going through what any person goes through when a family member decides to join the armed forces. This is all new to me and I am learning as I go. 

But one thing I’ve tried to get him to understand and I pray he knows, I support him in whatever he does and will be proud of him no matter which path he decides to take and I love him no matter what.

He will do great things in due time. I see more of myself in my brother than I care to admit. He’s antsy and wants to go and do. I will tell him just like everyone told me. In due time.

While I have my fears and concerns, as long as he’s doing what he wants, I’ll support him every step of the way even if it kills me. That’s what unconditional love is. 

Will I still worry? Yes. But if he’s happy doing what he loves then what choice do I have than to be happy for him. 

(Camille McClanahan is the editorial assistant at the Grant County News. You can contact her at 859-824-3343 or via e-mail at gcneditorial@grantky.com.)