My father cried. I fought back tears. My sister-in-law beamed and my brother Paul showed a slip of a smile as he stood in formation during the Turning Blue ceremony in which he received the blue cord of a U.S. Army Infantryman.
When the field was still bare and we waited with the other families for the moment when our soldiers would march out, I glanced through the program and found Paul’s name --“Paul Christian Gifford,” some emotion welled up in me akin to surprise. "That’s my brother," I wanted to cry out and almost laughed because of course, that’s why I was here. My baby brother was graduating from bootcamp. I had written about it, lived through the waiting with his wife, children and parents, knew that my brother the cop was at bootcamp, but seeing his name, a part of me was still surprised.
That’s my baby brother graduating from bootcamp. Paul is a husband, father, police officer, man, but I remember when he was just this little five-year-old who liked to dress in Michael Jackson zippered jacket and Don Johnson’s pastel coats; who was the only kindergartner to get to keep his bike in the classroom; the little boy who insisted on buying the most gigantic sombrero at Disney World; who was chunky with spiked hair until he grew up, began working out and became a body builder. This was my little brother and even though I’d written about it, even though I’d lived it, like any one whose ever watched a child she loves grow up, I was taken aback with surprise, left wondering when did it happen? Left with an overwhelming sense of pride in this person he became.