My goodbye to my soldier

We all have those moments in our lives. They're the ones we've been planning since we were little. We think about how we'll look at the person we're marrying on our wedding day. We wonder how we'll feel when we have a child. We think about how we'll say goodbye to our mothers and fathers on our first day of college. We think about the first day of a new job that we've been wanting forever. We anticipate how we'll react during the championship game we've been waiting to compete at all year.

For me, this is one of those moments.

How do I say goodbye to my twin sister?

It's not a secret that Sam and I have never been close. Putting us in a room together gives you all of the cliches at once. We react like vinegar and water, cats and dogs, the kitty and the fish, a fire and a drought. But her leaving the country for Afghanistan for a year has made me think, and made me think for a while.

I've thought about the phone calls of hers I've ignored, all of the times we've fought. I've thought of the few times we fought when we were little and even bit each other. I've thought about the time Mom was so mad at our bickering in the car, she chucked our "Old Maid" cards out the window. I've thought about the time Sam forwent a birthday party in the fourth grade so that my Mom could take my friends and I down to the American Girl Place in downtown Chicago for a show. I've thought about the time she visited me in college where naturally, we also fought. I've thought about all the times we would run down the stairs after having gone to bed, yelling to Mom and Dad that one of us called the other a B-I-C-H (since that's how you spell bitch when you're eight). I've thought about the times we would even fight on Christmas mornings. I've thought about all of the times we'd be lying in bed, and I'd be gushing about a boy, when she could not have been more bored. I've thought about the times I begged her to play girl games with me when we were little and how she wouldn't. I've thought about how many times I naturally woke up at 4 a.m. on Christmas morning in anticipation of our gifts from Santa, and how annoyed she was every year when I woke her up.

And I've thought about the good times, too.

I've thought about the times when we were in elementary school and looked very similar, so we'd switch name tags in Sunday school to confuse our teachers. I've thought about the time I declared it "twin day" in second grade and made Sam hang out with me all day while we wore matching outfits. I've thought about the times she's called me during college to ask for boy advice, and how much I loved that she needed me for something. I've thought about the times we laughed about the stupidest jokes until we cried, and how we'd talk to each other in baby voices and find it hilarious. I've thought about the decade of softball we played together. I've thought about the basketball we played together, and how when I set a piece of our high school track on fire during my halftime routine and she helped me stamp it out (since I forgot my shoes were rubber). I've thought about how fun it was to run for senior class president and vice president together with the slogan, "Twins for Twenty-Ten." I've thought about the time you lent me plane fare to fly up to Chicago to see Bob Woodward speak for a day.

I've thought about the time you told me you were initially going to Iraq, when I was at work in a newsroom and had to go to the bathroom to cry. I've thought about how really neat it is you're doing what you're doing, and how it would be selfish of our family not to want you to go. This experience will be good for you, because the ones that push us out of our comfort zones tend to be the best ones.

More than anything, I think I've spent the most time thinking about how hard I am on you. (I'm sorry, I can't help I was born Type A.) Contrary to what you think I might say, that's not something I'm going to stop doing. I'm hard on you because I want you to do the best for yourself, and I hope you feel this is it.

Clearly, I've spent a lot of time thinking about a lot of things, but not saying so much. I think as much as we like to plan the elloquence that's supposed to go into these types of situations, the only thing that comes out of them is word vomit. There's only one thing I can really say to you before you do this.

Break a leg, soldier. I love you. Come home soon.

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