Yesterday was going well until my mother called at noon. She had enough time to say, "Brad took some shrapnel. He's OK. There was an explosion." Then my cell phone decided it would be a nice time to drop the connection. In the minute or so it took before we connected again, I felt numb and listed all the ways we could drop everything and fly to wherever my brother was, if he had been medivacked out of Iraq. Turns out that his wound is so minor that he didn't need even a single stitch. The three other Marines in the vehicle weren't as fortunate.
Yesterday was going well until my mother called at noon. An improvised explosive device went off to the left of my brother's vehicle during a patrol somewhere in what has been oh-so-comfortingly called the "triangle of death". The driver was bleeding, and the two men in the back were ejected from the vehicle. While the rest of the convoy laid down cover fire and called in the medics, my brother the sargeant had to attend to his wounded men. He got them all to safety and started trying to save the life of one who was severely injured. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough for that Marine.
Yesterday was going well until my mother called at noon. As she told me what had happened, an image kept playing over and over in my mind. I pictured a woman busying about the kitchen, preparing a nice turkey and all the fixings for a family gathering when her doorbell rings. She hurries to answer it, thinking it must be someone with a pumpkin pie. Instead she opens the door to uniformed men with horrible news. I fought hard to grieve for her loss and still be thankful that my brother was alive and relatively unscathed. It made for a rough day.
My thanksgiving holiday was hell until my brother called at 5AM this morning. That's when I found out that the shrapnel was the size of a nickel and had nicked his tricep. He's on R&R with his portable DVD player and the copy of "50 First Dates" I sent him for his birthday back in October. This will be the first time he's been able to see the movie. And, yes, he will be nominated for a purple heart now, an honor I would've been more than happy my brother never received.
I am thankful that my brother is surrounded by good men who know that he's going to need some help through the aftermath. I am thankful that my mother was in the company of good friends when she found out. I am thankful that my father was in the company of my stepmother's family when he found out. I am thankful that I was in Mark's embrace all day yesterday. I am thankful my brother was able to call me this morning and tell me himself that he was OK. I am thankful that yesterday is over and today is another day.