He loved his pacifier. And when my aunt informed my mother that it was necessary to wean him off it, I hated her for about a year. Because he screamed and cried the entire time.
For a majority of his adolescence - he was busy with his friends and I was busy with mine. We never really meshed. But we fought. We fought hard. We lived in close quarters in a full house and I wasn't always very nice to him. I yelled at him a lot and he'd throw an insult my way from time to time. As most brothers and sisters do.
Something changed as he got older...as he made his way through high school. We were able to joke about the same teachers and he was more involved than I ever was. He was into sports. He had friends that he'd kept since he was young - and I admired him for that.
The first time he got in trouble - real trouble - it was probably blown out of proportion. And he was a combination of pissed and embarrassed because of it. He sat on couch staring at the floor in his crisp blue shirt and tie. Poor kid.
The second time he got in trouble - really got in trouble - he became a legend...with a liking for cigars. In the aficionado way - not the Clinton way. Ew.
We started hanging out. Seeing movies. Joking around. It was a little easier once I'd moved out and there was space between us. But I was more grateful than ever that the space was not as wide as it had been with my older brother, who didn't become a friend until we were both so much older.
And when Brandon died - Kim's little brother, who I'd loved as if he were my own - my own little brother emerged. He hugged me and cared for me and became what he is now. My friend. One of my best friends. Someone I can drink with (even if it bugs me when he's drunk), talk to, lean on and best of all - just be who we are. A brother and a sister.
And as of today - he is no longer a civilian. He's something more. Of course...
I knew that all along.
Congratulations on the Air Force, Dustin. I couldn't be a prouder sister.