“We’re leaving. I love you guys.” –
This was my brother’s text message to us before he boarded a plane that would take him and 148 others to Afghanistan for a 12-month deployment.
It was a Sunday evening when we received that text message. My mom, my dad, and I sat in the living room – swollen with pride, but weak with fear. June 13, 2010 was the beginning of an emotional roller coaster ride military families call… deployment.
One thing I can tell you about military families that have a loved one overseas fighting in this war is we don’t count down the months we have left to go. It’s torture. It feels as if everyday the clock ticks against you. Everyday you wonder what will happen. Will my brother drive over an IED (which he does constantly) and not be so lucky this time? Will the Taliban attack my brother's unit?
My brother has dodged bullets. He has seen fire fights, explosions, and has even come face-to-face with a member of the Taliban. Just inches. My brother could have been shot point blank. My heart and mind have a hard time knowing he was inches from being killed that day. My heart and mind have a hard time knowing that if that happens, if my brother gets shot or gets impacted by an IED…THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO. I feel helpless. He has always been my protector from bullies and heartbreaks. The time he needs the most protection, I am not there. I won’t know when he is hurt or clinging to life. I can’t comfort him or help him heal a wound.
My name is Annalisa. I live in New Hampshire where we truly experience all FOUR seasons (winter is brutal). I am 24 years old and still get asked if I want a children’s menu at restaurants (I am short and look young, I guess). I graduated from college in 2008 and I am currently paying off those student loans (hence why I still live at home). I majored in Graphic Design after falling in love with art since I first started school. Now, I work as a full-time graphic designer running a crazy office at a small company. It’s a crazy and stressful job but it’s in my field of study. When I am not working I enjoy watching baseball on TV, being outside (when the snow level isn’t taller than me), being with family & friends, using my Nikon D3000, going to the lake, etc. I am pretty low-key, quiet (until you get to know me). I just like the simple things of life. Oh and I am addicted to Apple products. Any graphic designer is.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t have nightmares of my family weeping while we stand staring at a casket draped with an American flag while the sounds of Amazing Grace are being played with bagpipes. It’s a nightmare I hope never comes true.
When a loved one deploys your life is put on alert. You’re in a fog but on edge. The phone rings – is it my brother? Or is it the Red Cross telling me that my brother was injured? The doorbell rings – is it the Red Cross and messenger; only to report the horrific news we hope our ears never hear. You see the flags at half-staff and know a local family is enduring that pain and nightmare. Before the holidays, New Hampshire had three soldiers die in one week. ONE WEEK. And those are the deaths that were in the news.
While these several months have been emotional and fearful, I wanted to help others. Siblings of our military men and women are out of the focus when it comes to resources. You see several groups, books, or websites for the parents, spouses, and children. However, you don’t see anything for the siblings. We too endure a lot of fear and a tidal wave of emotions. And we certainly should be a part of that focus. So two months after my brother deployed I decided to give the voice that many siblings longed for. You are the Champion is a resource website that focuses on the siblings of these amazing heroes. Creating this website and the in-person support groups has been my therapy. It’s kept me busy from falling prey to the horrible thoughts and fears. If you know a military sibling, whether their soldier is deployed or not, please pass this along. www.youarethechamp.com
One more season to go until my brother is home. We don’t count down the months as I said above. Nor do we count the days, the hours, or even the seconds. One season at a time. One breath at a time.
It was June of 2008 when I found Molly’s blog through my cousin’s blog. Molly and my cousin Renee are good friends. The first post I saw on Molly’s blog was titled “Funeral”. I saw the pink balloons and ribbons. As I scrolled down further, I saw the little white casket. While I don’t have children yet, it broke my heart. It didn’t seem right or natural. Since then, I have kept reading. Molly and Vic have amazing strength and faith. I am amazed on the things Molly is doing in honor of her little Lucy. I admire her. Thank you, Molly, for sharing Lucy’s story.