In January 2009, my little brother Andrew Weed departed to Iraq as a Marine Corps sniper. I have to say, it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do, was give him that final hug goodbye. I remember it clearly; we were downtown Chicago a few days after Christmas. Our family went to Marshal Field’s (now Macy’s) downtown in order to carry out a family tradition of eating under the big tree in the Walnut Room. After dinner, it was time for Pete and I to catch a flight back to Denver. I thought I was going to be fine. I believed he would come home safe and sound. I knew this in my head, since he is such a strong, smart and loyal warrior…and a lucky dude with 9 lives to boot. But my heart didn’t get the memo and I broke down and cried like a baby…and I’m not a very good crier. I’m more of a sobber, with an expected aftermath of a puffy face, snotty nose and intense headache. I remember the entire car ride to Midway airport, the lengthy security line, the airport bar and even onto the airplane….I was a wreck. My heart was utterly broken at the thought of losing my baby brother.
But over the 8 months Andrew served our country, he did it with class and pride. He kept his awesome sense of humor. He tried to call and email when time and technology permitted. We sent him care packages with apple sauce, beef jerky, candy and more beef-a-roni than you can shake a stick at. On his birthday, we sent out an email to Andrew’s friends and family explaining how to send packages, and he ended up receiving almost 30 birthday boxes from the States. He gave most of them to soldiers that never received boxes from anyone. That’s just how he rolls.
Needless to say, when I received the news that Andrew had returned home I was elated. But yesterday, when I actually got to see him, I was overjoyed. In the moment I was finally able to hug my little brother again, I finally started to really breathe again. I realized I had been walking around quite on-edge since he had left, but hadn’t really noticed since I was so determined to only have positive thoughts. So in that moment, when I finally gave him a big hug, I knew it was okay again. And soon thereafter he tossed me up on his back for the picture above. And it was good again, as if no time had passed.
I just want to publicly say THANK YOU to Andrew, and all the other men and women who are serving in our country’s military. Regardless of your feelings on the war itself, these people have put on hold some big life plans. Getting an education, jobs, weddings, the birth of their babies, Christmas…the list goes on, and we have so much to thank them for. To those still fighting this war, God speed. And to Andrew…you may be my little brother, but you are still my biggest hero.