A BROTHER’S DEATH

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Although I remember where I was, I am not sure on exact date and year. It was sometime in October, around Columbus Day ( I know this because being in Military, we look forward to benefits of a four day holiday). The year was either 1994 or 1995. I had not long before left work, the Marine on barracks duty for that informed me that I was to return to the building which I worked at, where the corporal who was in charge in my well being was on duty at. As thoughts raced through my mind, none particularly important raced through my mind, I thought to myself, “what could it now?” Marines are notorious for playing mind games at the expense of those of lesser rank. I made a list in my mind of what game it would be this time, mop and bluff the battalion floor, reorganize the file cabinets, look for the misplaced service book record (SRB), it could not be that one, Master Guns would have stopped everyone during regular working hours and search for it and no one would have been allowed to leave work without finding it. Although angry at the interruption, I was yet anxious to discover the new development. I was here at the battalion; it did take me long to arrive since my barracks was only a short distance away. Upon entering the building, I was met by the corporal, anticipating the introduction of the new game, but to my surprise his face did not bore the excitement from the previous times nor were the rest of the gang there. This had to be bad, I braced myself for the worst, reminding myself that I was a Marine, trained to face adversity and prevail. He said nothing, but as in a death march lead me into another room, where a phone on a small table was waiting. He motioned for me to pick it up, which I readily did. In all my training in the Marine Corps, all the misfortunes I had to overcome, and the difficult life lessons that I been taught and triumphed as a victorious student, there was nothing that could have prepared me for the words that echo in my mind even to this day. It was my sister, or my mother or my other sister to this day I can not recall which of them it was, but the words I will take to my grave with precision, “your brother is dead” echoed like a chorus in the forefront of a dreadful song. Although they spoke for about an hour, the only thing could recall was the chorus, “your brother is dead; he’s been shot in the neck and died in route to the hospital”. “Which brother?” I asked, realizing that perhaps I did have preference. One was a recovering coke addict, the other one much younger, although experience difficulty in the past, had started attending school and got a part—time construction job to help my mom meet ends. He was my mother’s baby. He was twenty-three. How? What happened? Who did it? Why would they do such a thing? and lastly but most important where did they live? My mother tried in her grief stricken state to answer some of these questions, but one she bluntly refused to answer, the where did he live one. To the day she died had refused to tell me and probably rightly so. I was a Marine, and there is a thin line between guarding the country in the name of justice and administrating because you are a Marine, what you feel would be just, the vigilante way. During the conversation, I heard someone screaming in agony, heart hurdling screams; it was not my mother; I realized it was me. I consistently remind myself when confronted with situations that test my mental thresholds, that as a Marine I was trained to defend, at all cost (some may argue that the training was concerning killing but I rather use the less harsh word, defend). I never questioned when it was appropriate to use that training until that night, until that call. Something left from me that night, something I will never regain again. I too, started on a path to destruction, that night I felt something in me slowly within starting to die. I did not realize how intertwine our lives had become. How I relied on our brief conversations during my short holiday breaks. How excited he was the last time I saw, because I told him I was going to teach how to drive; I looked forward to the next holiday break, which was this one to see him again, but now I would never see him alive again, he was dead. I can recall when I was six holding my infant brother in my hands while he smiled so innocently at me, at anyone, at everyone. We could tell that he was destined to be a leader, at least in his own right. He was such a cute critter; it was like all the sunshine around the room would gather at one point, his smile. I took a likening to him from the day he arrived from the hospital (I did not particularly like my other siblings; they were mean to me and I figure if I started with him from birth, he might go easy on me when he got older, I would train him to be on my side, to help level the odds a bit because I was grossly out numbered by the others 4 to 1). As I witness him growing up, being as inquisitive as he was, I would slip in, every chance I got some of my ideology, hoping to instill some of my values in him. My mom worked two jobs, so I was to be his self appointed protector, mentor, and advisor; this was at my tender age of twelve. It worked well for several years. I can recall when I turned 17, my brother was 11; he asked my mom in front of me if he could attend church with me. My mom looked curiously at me, as to say where did he get that idea from? I held my head up with pride hoping that my confidence would convince her, but as I had expected, she said, “No, her son wasn’t going to be in a cult”. A cult that she knew nothing of or she would have not said so. I thought to myself, because I dare not refute my mother’s decisions a loud, a lesson I learned at an earlier time from a curtain rod against my tender legs. All my hopes for him died with him. Now I had to listen to pep talks, about how it was expectant even more for me to succeed in the light of his death, rather I say darkness. I did not attend the funeral, because my brother was gone and I did not want to witness the burial of an empty shell, a murder’s trophy, if it was up to me, he would be lying right there next to him. He killed my brother over a girl, my brother’s life was worth nothing to him and his life was worth even less to me. I kept thinking how I was trained to shoot 500 yards away, he would never know what hit him, but I wanted him to know, I wanted to formally introduce myself and echo my name in his ears that the last sounds he would hear would be my brother’s name. I wanted him to know the pain he caused my mother and how she died that day too. She would never be the same. As I weighed my options and after processing the words that crowded me from others, I decided not to attend or even go home. My mom was angry for a while, but deep down I knew she understood, because she kept saying I do not want to loose both of you. Although one life was ended, another one would be saved. It is God alone place to judge and His judgments are just, everyone according to their deeds. That guy died sometime later, by the same method he chose to kill others.

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