War

I opened the door to her, a smile on my face as it was always a joy to see my sister.

She lived so far away now, growing from the girl I had known as my sister tied to me at the hip into my best friend who I longed for. I missed her so, and I was envious of her fiancée who got to see her as I had growing up, watching her grow now in her belly a daughter of her own.

Even on my saddest day, I could greet her with no less of a smile then one of pure happiness.

I missed her, my best friend.

The door swung open quickly, that smile on my face as I looked at her standing there.

Frozen, I realized instantly that something was wrong.

Her eyes were glossy, red. Beneath them were bags that told me she had spent a great deal of time crying lately. Shaky hands clutched her swollen belly as her lips quivered.

I reached out to grasp her, comfort her, afraid that she would keel over from whatever sadness seemed to plague her.

My hand didn’t touch her, instead she pressed a single sheet of paper into my hands.

The sheet was moist, certain words running together where her tears had fallen. I unfolded it, skimming through it with my heart racing.

I had never seen her this way before, never.

When I read the words that must have broke her, my brain seemed to erase them not wanting to believe it. I had to go back and read it again.

“Killed in action.”

The moment the words registered, my eyes shot to hers.

My god, I couldn’t get the words out.

Before any words could pass my lips, she raced into my arms, her body shaking madly as her sobs rocked her.

I held onto her as though it was the last time I would ever get the chance, and in a way it would be. The sister who had grown into the best friend I would never be able to replace would change after this, the old her disappearing.

The emotions weighed down on us until I was sobbing with her. Her emotions were my own as we sat on the floor in my front doorway.

I felt the rush of her heartbreak, in that moment he had been my fiancée and I had just realized I lost him. My heart was so full for her, and yet so empty.

Pulling back, she looked at me. Her face red, thick teardrops still falling. She asked me what she was going to do, asked me to tell her that none of this was real and he would be coming home in a month for their wedding as planned. As she asked me to lie to her, the tears choked her, as though she realized in her heart that no lie would ever bring him back.

Looking at her, I brushed some stray strands of hair back from her face as I used to do when we were children, the gesture caused more tears to fall so I pulled her back into me.

I could never imagine what she was going through, but I saw the pain of her heartbreak and it broke my heart in turn.

Her sobs were intense, seeming as though if she could, she would cry forever. She told me how much it broke her heart to know her daughter would never get to see her fathers smile, would never get to feel the strength of his hands, the support of his shoulders, the love in his heart.

I let her cry, not moving her and just letting her get everything out.

My sister would be different after this day, she would be a single mother; and she too would be different. She was suddenly aware just how many casualties this war had. Men and women left every day, fewer returned. How many women had crumbled at the news of their husbands, fathers, sons lost, how many men felt broken at the news of their wives, girlfriends, sisters, friends. How many children would never know a parent because they had been taken for something so meaningless.

More lives were lost for greed and power then were lost to sickness. Did we really need all we took, all we sought for? Did we need them more then we needed mothers, fathers, siblings, lovers, friends?

I cried then, harder then I had cried before. I cried for my sister, for her daughter, for her fiancee and I cried for all those victims of a war they had never wanted, and a world that would only get worse.

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