"Aunty... I'm being deployed to Iraq."
Today he is leaving to go to Fort Hood. He just called to tell me that he loved me. I'm typing while crying y'all... In about a month he's flying to the Middle East.
He joined the military against the wishes of everyone and he did it so innocently. He's not a scholar, he's not good with his hands, he was working at some chicken joint and really wanted to do something with his life. I remember when he called to tell me he was enlisting.
I asked him not to, begged him not to, reminded him that we're in the middle of a war - it's like straight Revelations right now! - he said, so sweetly, made me think he was 5 years-old again... "but Obama is about to be elected and he's going to end the war".
I realized that I was not going to stop him. My brother, his father, who was in the military tried to stop him but couldn't deter him. I remembered how my mother told me that she begged my brother not to enlist. "Go to college", she said - that was back when the City University was free - but he was following behind a friend and decided to go anyway. With tears in her eyes she signed him up because at 17 he was too young to do it himself. I remembered how my mother broke down every time we drove him back to LaGuardia or JFK to go back to his stationed state. I knew the minute that my nephew enlisted, he wouldn't be traveling the world as my brother did, he would be trained and traveling to one destination...
He spent the holidays with me and we brought in this new year together, purposefully, before his deployment. I love when my nephew visits because I put him to work. He's been cooking for me since he was 8 and during this visit, I also made him clean. While sweeping the floor, he looks at me innocently and asks when was I going to have children. I told him that 22 years ago I had one son and he's enough. Thank you Aunty, he said, "But I'm not your son and besides you were only a teenager when I was born". With bass in my voice I told him that I said he was my son. I reminded him that I was there when he was born, one of the first faces he saw was mine, how he used to call me "Mommy", how I was his first babysitter, how we'd play and how I used to pick him up from school and do his homework with him. He recanted and said, "Well now that you say all that, I suppose you are my second mother...
Here's my Fine Man Friday... my 22 year-old baby... my nephew
May he be completely covered during his deployment... May he be strong and wise and connected... I am believing for and claiming his safe and speedy return. Amen.