He was the most awkward black dude I had ever met.
The first time I met him, I almost ran over him in an attempt to catch a bus back to campus of this job training program I was in where I met my first husband.
Odder still, it was him that taught Vincent how to use grease in his hair–MURRAY’S. Yeah–I married the only white guy that knew how to use Murray’s and had the only brother that didn’t oil his hair.
I met Vincent through him formally when he changed trades. He was quiet, reserved and he just didn’t fit in with the merry bandits that we had assembled as family at the job training facility. But from being around my boyfriend, I got to be his adopted sister. From that day to this, I call him my little brother.
Vincent was funny, sardonic and dark. We would talk all the time about everything, and I introduced him to my inner circle of best friends and they treated him another brother.
Vincent would let me correct him if he got outta pocket, he talked to me about girl issues and hung out with me and Zack constantly.
Vincent was intelligent and was still trying to figure this life thing out. After he graduated from the job training program, he joined the Army after a series of jobs.
This was 2006.
The war in Afghanistan was ongoing.
I asked him why he was going to the Army. He said that he was going so he could have a job when his time was done. “I’ll be okay, sissy.” He said. I trusted him.
He came to visit Zack and I after he finished basic training. I made him a dinner, and invited people. I always tried to go out of my way to tell him that I loved him. He always wanted me to be okay.
One of the last memories I have of him is him on my back porch in his ARMY sweatshirt that I told him was too small. I hugged him–he was so warm.
After his visit with us, he went back to where he would ultimately get deployed from (Ft. Hood).
The night we found out he had gotten deployed, Zack had spoken to him. He said that Vincent was afraid. Vincent didn’t want to die. Zack tried to reassure him, told him about his nieces that he had to come back and see (our oldest was already born, and I was pregnant with our second). Two months later, I found out that my brother had been killed by an IED in Afghanistan…at 22, two years after he enlisted.
I had talked to Vincent about God, and my faith–the only person that he really listened to about things like that.
I wanted to know if his death had been quick. I wanted to know if he had suffered. We weren’t even allowed to go to the funeral, didn’t know arrangements and I haven’t had the strength to visit his grave in Jefferson Barracks here in Missouri.
I thought about when or whether I would see my brother again. I prayed that someone had reached him with the news of Christ. I hoped he had heard it…accepted it, so I would see him again.
With all the talk of war and its funding by this administration, I think of my brother…and other people’s brothers, lost.
It has been almost a decade since I have heard my brother’s voice, held him, or asked him how his day was.
I miss him.
With this great gulf fixed, all I have of him is memories, and thoughts of what life could have been, should have been for him. It is his blood that is in the country’s soil and flag, too.
And to me, he will ever be the goofy dude that I had to ask why his face was nasty in the morning. He never stopped being my brother…even when he became a hero.
*At the top, is me and Vincent around the time I was dating my first husband. It’s one of the few I have left of him. Pray for the Armed Forces…they need it now more than ever.