This week has been exhausting. My sweet family has been here since Sunday, staying at my sweet fiance's home. Typically this would be the exhausting part (love ya mom!). But no, the hard part this visit was the reason for their extended time in the ATL. We were here spending time with Patrick before he leaves for Afghanistan. And the roller coaster continues. My poor friends have had to read my emails begging for prayers in each stop on this journey. From first hearing that he would deploy again, to getting the confirmation that he will go, to learning that as soon as he gets home, Dad will likely be going. My little ostrich self likes to put my head in the sand and not pay any attention to these realities until forced. I managed to keep my head underground for most of the week, just hanging out with Patrick at his house, celebrating his and mom's birthdays, correcting his politically incorrect remarks. You know, the usual. Until Tuesday night. I knew I'd have to come up for air eventually. My ridiculously generous brother treated our whole family and Vanessa's family to a Braves game Tuesday night. We cooked out at my house and sang happy birthday since Patrick will be overseas come May 12th. We had a few adult beverages and hung out as a family. And when it was over, my brother hugged me for longer than usual. He promised me that he would do everything he could to get home for my wedding and told me he loved me. And for a few seconds, he didn't let go. I told him goodbye, got in my car, and LOST IT. How I made it home in the fog of my tears I don't know. I did the usual. I internally stamped my feet, pounded my fists, and not so delicately told God what I thought of this stupid situation. Like when we were kids and promised not to fight for 2 days if God would make the nintendo game work as we blew into it, I promised God all kinds of things if He would keep my brother here. I promised to not drink diet coke anymore and to tithe more regularly. I promised to be more patient with family and to give more selflessly. I promised to stop putting on makeup in the car and to recycle more. All the while knowing I don't have to promise anything. Patrick's safety and happiness are in God's hands no matter what unneccessary sacrifice I make. The only promise I make now is to work harder at remembering who is in control.
So, in the coming weeks, when I know my brother is on a plane for his second tour in this war, I will try to 'not be anxious about anything. But in everything, with prayer and petition, present my requests before God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Phillipians 4: 6-7. He will be okay. He has to be.
To Patrick: the poor guy in the middle of two crazy sisters; the one who at 24 still likes to sleep under the Christmas tree; the one who until we are old and gray will be getting the family together; the one who at 17 years old, came to visit me at UGA and left me a $20 bill on my bed and told me to 'buy something for yourself, love your brother'; the one who still leaves messages on my voicemail saying 'hey keri, it's your brother' as if I don't know his voice after 24 years; the one who is tempermental like dad but unfalteringly generous like dad too; the one who can't spell like mom but who never gets off the phone without saying 'I love you' like mom too, the one who would give his left arm for someone he didn't know and give both arms for someone he loves; the one who cannot manage to pose for a picture without pinching his sister's love handles; the one who is a child whisperer, so innately amazing with children; the one who we called Budda because he was so fat and bald as a baby; the brother that at age 2 1/2 I prayed for; the brother who people thought wouldn't talk because his chatty big sister answered everything for him; the brother who I fought voraciously with as a child and who I love voraciously today; you could NOT be more cherished than you are by us. We love you with every ounce of our beings. Nothing in our family is right without your big temper, compassionate spirit and soft heart.
Sweet God, please, please, pretty pretty please, bring him home safe to us.