Rated: E · Short Story · Drama · #2290224
A life of service remembered
| My Sister, the Marine|
The sound of the first bullet echoed overhead. It seemed louder in the cold and blowing winds of the day. Even though I knew it was coming, the noise startled me, causing me to jump where I stood. I looked around at the people next to me, and knew they were experiencing the same awakening as myself. That first gun blast served as a poignant reminder for us all that she was gone. It made my heart ache, once more. My sister, Janine the Marine, as I liked to call her, had reached her final summation.
She served two years active duty and two years reserve, right out of high school. She once told me that it was the hardest thing she had ever done, but one of the things she was most proud. It set the tone for her whole life. Being a Marine turned her into a strong, determined, and confident woman. Where once there stood a young woman unsure of her future, the Marines helped to mold the person I had the honor of knowing through the years. Janine traveled from California to North Carolina, with many bases in between. Through diligence and hard work, she rose to the rank of Sergeant.
The second blast fired rapidly. It brought tears to my eyes.
When she left boot camp, she was strong and fit. I was a child of eleven, when she came home for her first leave. Watching her exercise and workout made me weary. It was the new attitude in her life that impressed me. There was grace in her movement and a commanding presence in her character. It seemed as if she were ready for any mission handed her. She now showed pride in every little detail. Living with her at that time was a bit difficult, as we shared a bedroom. She was constantly making me clean my room. The annoyances were outweighed by the things she taught me. I learned respect for not only myself, but others. I learned about the love of God and Country.
In my reverie of remembrances, the third and final bullet rang out overhead.
When she left the Marines, her service didn't end. She helped organize and maintain the Young Marine service organization. It was a community-based outreach program designed to inspire the youth in the inner city. Janine even managed to press me into service by making me play Betsy Ross on the parade float. It was always exciting to become acquainted with her energy. Throughout her life, she always had a project to do and a will to succeed.
An isolated rendition of Taps rang out in its monotone clarity, serving to remind me that time was near. But I still had so much to learn from this strong and gentle woman. I wanted to tell her how truly beautiful she was. My memories of her flashed through my mind, like morsels of food providing sustenance. They provided strength for the road ahead.
I looked over at Janine's husband, as the flag was placed in his hands. He was the love of her life and she had chosen her soul mate wisely. For over 45 years, this man, this former Marine, had stood by her side in sickness and in health. Together they raised 3 beautiful kids and delighted in the joys of 6 grandchildren. But it was the last 5 years that defined the level of devotion of her husband inspired by my sister. Janine was diagnosed with AML or leukemia for people that aren't aware of the abbreviation. As devastating as the diagnosis was, the battle was excruciating. In the end, she was cancer free, but it was the treatments and her bodies response to the marrow transplant that wore her down. She fought so hard, so Marine-like. The gumption she dug out of her gut each day was an uplifting sight. But if you asked her, her reply was always, "I'm doing good." Her husband put his life on hold for 5 long years, caring for her every day. Once again, I was inspired by my sister because of the love these two shared and the strength they portrayed. Until the day she died, she set her sights on the battle. And there was an elegance in her final moments.
Boom, an imaginary reverberating storm of the final bullets, tolled in my head. The knell made my heart ache at the loss, but so very proud of this woman. My sister, Janine the Marine, shall be laid to rest at Jefferson Barracks in full honor of her service long ago.
Word Count 775