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He’s My Friend – He’s My Brother by John Soliz

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I saw Steve Moody today (Sunday, September 29).
I walked into a clean room with polished floors while a mechanical rhythm from a machine pumped life into Steve.  He looked  unreal.  A nurse walked in and asked,” are you a family member?” An awkward moment of fumbling thoughts occurred as I answered, “we’re friends”.  Something was wrong with my answer.  She told me I could talk to him, but he probably wouldn’t be able to respond.  He’s sedated.  
Standing next to his bed I bent down over him cautiously saying, “Steve, Steve, its John.”   He heard me.  His eyes rolled side to side beneath his heavy eyelids.  “If you can hear me, just squint”, I said.  To my relief, good old Steve opened his eyes but only for a moment.  Yet,  in that brief glimpse, there was a connection; a communication of sorts.  He knew I was there, but how long his knowledge of my visit lasted, I don’t know. Could he hear me?  Could he contemplate my words? He seemed to have returned to the comfort of a deep sleep.
So surrounded by the sights and sounds of health care I sat in the only chair in his room.  At first I thought about him;  how the frail person with a face contorted by tubes running into his mouth and down the throat didn’t look like Steve.  Is it funny or weird, maybe, because somehow I had ventured into the twilight zone.  I no longer saw an old sick man.  I could see the young strong crazy Steve.  The Marine who could answer any question.  I sat for awhile enjoying the departure from reality thinking about when all of us were you and looked good in our uniforms.  But creeping into my thoughts and bringing me back to reality was the  intrusive feeling I had experienced earlier when I claimed he was a friend.
 Friends seemed to be the word; the provocation to my uneasiness which had quickly grown into a feeling of betrayal.  Yes, I betrayed Steve but in a way most people couldn’t understand.  How?  Because he is more, much more than a friend.  He is a brother.  A special kind of a brother, even more special than my biological brothers.  A brotherhood
that can only find birth in the hell fires of combat. Forged forever in the  heated battles of life and death.  Steve has faced  what very few Americans have.  He’s heard angry bullets slamming into trees around him and the thump of mortar tubes sending special deliveries his way.  His body so scared, it hurt to move but he did.  A fear so intense it feels like it boils the blood that mixes with profuse amounts of adrenalin which elevates the heat and brands the soul. 
So the next time someone asks me if he is my friend or for that matter, if I am asked, if you are my friend, I’ll answer, “no…he’s my brother.

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