As some of you know, my surrogate brother was, until very recently, in the Marine Corps. In some ways, there's the kind of tension you might expect between us about it; and yet there are other ways in which he understands some of the peace work I've done out of my convictions as a Friend -- peace witness in the Middle East; American Red Cross Disaster Relief and Armed Forces Emergency Services work -- better than anyone else in my family.
I just found out that a dear cousin on another side of the family, who's graduating from high school this June, has enlisted in the Marines. He tells me he's shipping out in September.
And I am having a hard time with this.
My brother was considerably older when he enlisted. He started in the reserves. He fought in Desert Storm. He's always been older (and taller) than I am. There are times when I've been scared for him, and for my family, but I've had, I don't know -- a certain acceptance of his decision to serve this way.
My cousin is eighteen. He's starting on active duty. We're in the middle of a long war. I held him as a baby. He's only been taller than I am for a couple of years.
And, from the soldiers and families I've worked with as a volunteer, I have some sense of what he's going into.
I'm scared for him, and I don't have that same kind of acceptance of his decision.
I know he's going to learn a lot about himself, and he's going to grow. And I'm looking forward to seeing that.
But I am not looking forward to the rest.
I wish I could protect him in the same way I held him as a baby.
Not a sentiment he'd appreciate, I think. :)