Today we went to my Mum’s for lunch, my big sister and big little brother were there. We don’t see the ‘family’ often. My sister lives in Suffolk and my brother lives in Norfolk (with one other brother also in Suffolk and the oldest brother in Essex.)
Well my brother has been having a rough time of things lately, he has recently; within the last couple of years, maybe more, left the Air Force (big up the boys). You may not think this a HUGE deal, but when you realise he enlisted in 1978 you understand that a large chunk of his life has been taken up by serving Queen and country. My brother is a tiny dude, 5 foot 4 if he’s lucky and a bit of a geek (it must run in the blood). Well he moved out when I was just five, aww a wee one, so I don’t ‘know’ him really, just a few small memories of him being at home actually living with us as opposed to visiting. I remember him and my big big brother sitting on my big sister and tickling her and she was laughing away, so I guess at the back of my mind I knew she was ok, but I was crying my eyes out thinking they were going to kill her!! I remember being threatened to be put in the coal bunker or dustbin! The loveliest memory, not that my brothers were nasty; just playful, was one Christmas, I wasn’t very old and I know that it must have been before he was in the forces so probably before he moved out, we were in the back garden and there was snow on the ground (that really deep snow, not like we get now!) and as clear as I sit here now I remember looking up at him and seeing snowflakes landing in his hair. My brother has/had dark brown almost black shoulder length/just below shoulder length hair. We were having snowball fights and I can clearly remember how bright white these flakes looked in his hair. Anyway I digress.
He has been having ‘mental health’ problems but they way the doctors work it took a while for him to get to properly see anyone for him to be told he had these problems, he felt the treatment wasn’t working properly so decided to pay for himself to have ‘therapy’ CBT he is doing. Just one more thing you need to know about his time in the forces, he mended aeroplanes, he was an engineer, he was the one that kept the Jaguars and the Tornados and all those type jets in the air. He has been in many ‘wars’, I put the word in inverted commas as my comprehension of a war is probably screwed, you know WW1 and WW2 are wars, Falklands and Afghanistan are just Skirmishes . Well he has been to different places mended aeroplanes all over the world but I was always under the impression that he had an ‘easy life’; as much as he could, compared to the fighters and such. Today that changed for me. Apparently when he was in Afghanistan he always worked on base which as you can imagine is ‘safe’. He was called to a site where he was told that he was needed and would be there probably 2 hours tops. That turned into two and a half days. It was a combat zone. He was behind a wall, gun in hand, shooting at the enemy. This was 8 months before his enlistment finished. All these years with no fighting and 8 months before he was due to leave he was in a combat zone shooting, he used 342 bullets and he doesn’t know if he killed or wounded anyone. My big little brother was there doing that and up until the beginning of this year not even his wife knew. His problems have been put down to PTSD and it wasn’t until he started having therapy that he even remembered he had been there. He knew in his mind that ‘something’ had happened but was unsure what.
As I sat there listening I could hear my heart beating faster and the palms of my hands getting sweaty. My big little brother was in a combat zone. Even now I can feel the heat of tears starting behind my eyes.
I don’t feel sad or angry in fact right this moment I feel nothing. I am glad he is okay, I am glad he can talk about it.
I am glad I still have my big little brother.