*a day late, I know*
I do not have the same frame of reference for war that my grandparents did. I do not have childhood memories of occupation troops, nor did I walk across the Netherlands during Hongerwinter to find food. At no point during my childhood did we take in a Jewish child who needed a safe place to stay.
I do not have the same frame of reference for war that my brother does. I have never ridden in a Humvee. I have not spent months overseas, or lost friends in combat. I don’t even have the vocabulary for his experience.
My frame of reference for war is that of a descendant. Who heard the stories that my grandparents told, and the stories that they didn’t tell.
My frame of reference for war is that of a sister.
My frame of reference for war is my mother’s hair turning gray day-by-day. It’s my mother’s voice when she tells me that after two weeks of silence, we still have not heard from my brother. It’s my father’s voice, torn by sorrow, after we have heard from my brother. My frame of reference for war is recognizing my brother’s roommate in the list of casualties. It’s scouring the pictures in news stories for his face, for mention of his division, for proof that he’s okay. It’s my sisters’ tears. It’s my tears.
It’s the joy of seeing him come home. Seeing him hold his niece, just days old, and seeing the healing start with a baby’s tiny hand.
I am thankful for veterans. Without them, I would not be where I am today.
I am thankful for my brother. Without him, I would not be the woman I am today.
Love you, brother.