In 2001 while the nation was trying to deal and recover from the horrible attacks of 9/11 my family was hit by news that for the most part we have never recovered. As many of you know you read this site on a regular basis whether you have read my blog or my father's article I am talking about the death of my older brother, Brandon.
He was serving in the Marines after a stint with the Navy. He had wanted to be in the Navy Seals but could not pass the water test, which absolutely surprised me because he was a lifeguard and an excellent swimmer. He switched to the Marines and started training the M.A.S.H. unit as a nurse. He was stationed in Okinawa for two years before returning back to the states and was stationed in San Diego.
On Sunday morning at roughly around 2 am on the 25th the paramedics were called to his residence by one of his Marine buddies. Brandon had reported being really tired and closed his eyes and fell out of his chair. His heart never beat again and he was pronounced dead at 4 am.
None of our family would find out until the next morning when Navy and Marine officers showed up at my mom (in Arkansas) and dad's (in Nebraska) at 6 am. My little brother (Will) and I were living in Lincoln at the time. My mother called at 11 am to tell us of the news. By 1 pm we were headed on an 8 hour drive to my mom's. I didn't drive at all on the trip because I had just come off of the graveyard shift at the grocery store that I was working. I don't know how Will made the entire journey driving by himself but I am entirely grateful for it.
The last time I had spoken to Brandon was on Thanksgiving Day and I was asking him what the age of 24 was going to be like. He said it was going to be a really good year. My birthday falls the week after Thanksgiving on the 3rd of December. Suffice it to say my 24th birthday and 24th year of life was not all that good. But what I remember most about that phone call is that for the first time in my life I actually beat him to the point and was able to tell him that I loved him first. That was the last time that I ever talked to Brandon.
I don't know that our family will ever fully recover from that day and to be perfectly honest I don't think we should. I can't speak for the rest of my family members but I am fairly sure they would agree with me that there is a huge hole in my heart that Brandon occupied that will never be filled.
I know he's still around and that he is looking out for me. That gives me some comfort but I do miss him and do wish he were still here today. Call me selfish if you want, but the fact remains is that I am selfish. This was a five member family that even a divorce couldn't rip apart. My dad still stays with my mom when he goes to visit and they are still best of friends. But like I said it is a five member family. I am the oldest now, approaching my 32nd year of life, but in my mind I will always be the middle child.
We all miss you Brandon. It's been eight years but it still feels like yesterday.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Hold your friends close and your family members even close. Tell them that you love them every chance and opportunity that you get. You never know when it will be your last. Cherish every person you come in contact with no matter your differences. Love everyone and allow them to love you. Yes these are lessons I learned from my bubba.
I love you all and hope that your Thanksgiving is a good one. Talk to you all soon.
Just a quick addendum that I forgot early. Brandon's two favorite bands growing up were KISS and The Doors. On what would have been his 30th birthday (just a few months after he passed) my younger brother and I saw Robby Krieger (former guitarist for The Doors) in concert in Lincoln. Tonight on the 8th Anniversary of his death I am watching KISS Live on facebook. This will mark the 6th time I have seen KISS in concert. The first one was in 1984 (non makeup) with the entire family in Oklahoma City. The second being in 1996 on their reunion tour in Little Rock with William and Brandon.