Lots of great things have happened to her since then.
She finished her zoology degree.
She got a great new job at this kooky non-profit wildlife preservation place.
Her title is "animal keeper". She feeds chickens to tigers (no shit). She doses the epileptic ocelot with tegratol. She acts as tour guide for school children and senior citizen groups.
With her combat pay she bought a pretty little house with lots of land out in the middle of nowhere – not for everyone, but she loves it.
And this Sunday – unless she pulls a "runaway bride",- which I'm fairly certain she won't do, although she's shifted from "fiancé" to "ex" more than anyone else in the family, she's going to marry Brian.
What I DON"T like about Brian is this:
He doesn't look like a "Brian". And by that I mean, that he does not look like a person named Brian. I don't have anything against "Brians"- or even a real preconceived notion of what they look like. But this Brian doesn't look like one, and this mis-match in looks and name means I have, more times than is normal, blanked on the poor guy's name.
The times I haven't blanked on his name, well, I wouldn't know, because I now get a little panicked just before I'm about to say his name and before I will know whether or not I'm going to blank, I quickly work the conversation around so I don't have to remember/say his name.
I think he looks more like a "John". Or maybe "Sean" except it would be spelled "Shawn".
What I do like about Brian is this:
1. First and foremost he is good to my sister. We all like people who are good to people we love. That goes without saying. What I like about the way in which he is good to my sister is that it is non-cloying, non-fake, non- freaked out. It is not putting her up on a pedestal, nor taking her on as a "fix-er upper". The ways in which he is good to her do not come out of fear or panic.
The thing I get, what I pick up on is this- he is a good person who really, really enjoys my sister's company. She makes him happy and he is a person who can handle happiness. He can be happy in happiness (not the easiest thing- in case you don't know).
This part, I think this is more admiration than "like". It is something I admire in my sister, as well.
2. One time when Sarah and Brian first got back (he served in Iraq with her- does that make for a crazy courtship story or what?) my Dad was talking about fishing. He was talking about the kind of bait he liked to use and (what's a cutesy short hand symbol for "ad nausea"?) and he was telling jokes and Brian listened attentively and appreciatively and smiled and chuckled at my Dad's jokes. And then Amy (another sister) pipes up and says, "I like to use a net."
Brian turns to her with sport-fisherman interest and says, "oh, yeah?"
And Amy says, "yeah. . . . The way I do it- first I stick the net in the bowel, then I stir it around in circles real fast (Amy demonstrates) . . . . you get the fish dizzy and then they're really easy to catch."
What I like about Brian is he got this joke. He didn't pause a second (Amy's deadpan delivery sometimes confuses people).
I thought at the time, seeing him light up, he's not your regular run of the mill, good ole boy. He's got something. That something you want, and want for people you love.
3. Last summer my Dad had a heart attack. My mom didn't tell me until the next day about it, when Dad was going in for one of those cardiac router rooter things. I got to the waiting room and Sarah and Brian (and everyone else) was there. When Dad got wheeled out, we all followed him. One of the elevators was broken and it seemed to take a long time, standing there in the hallway with Dad pale and hooked up to things. It was shocking- as anyone who's ever seen a very physically strong person laid out like that, will attest to. It was also awkward and scary. We closed in and then we hung back. We didn't know what to say or where to look. Brian stood next to my father's head, and whispered some joke and my dad laughed. I like him very much for that.
4. Sarah's birthday is exactly 10 years and 4 days after mine. We've often celebrated our birthdays' with the family, together. Last Fall my mom gave me this pretty area rug. As I was loading up, gathering to take the kids home, Brian grabbed the rug (not all that heavy, but still . . .) and said, "oh, let me get this for you"- and put it in the back of my car.
My mom, who was standing next to me at the time, and I- did that female, cartoony swoon thing . . . . "he is SO dreamy!"
5.Sarah hasn't talked a lot about the war. I don't push her because I'm afraid of my own anger. Sarah's got plenty of anger and "stuff" and whatnot- she doesn't need my side-line, "salon.com" crap to go along with it. I am relieved she's living with someone who went through it with her. My mom told me that Sarah told her, when the air conditioning on their new house broke last summer, Sarah and Brian both agreed, "It could be a lot worse".
6.Here's one story Sarah told me. She and Brian and the rest of the convoy were in Tikrit. They were running out of gas and it was getting dark. Apparently, "coordinates" are pre-programmed on the trucks. Something was wrong and they were lost. They were lost in Tikrit and running out of gas and it was getting dark. Sarah says Brian saved her life (their lives- the all of them) that night. He started messing with the coordinate thing, messing and doctoring (remember they were designed to NOT be doctored with) and somehow got the info they needed to get to where they were safe. To help me understand this story, Sarah had to tell me some about why it would have been so unbelievably dangerous to have run out of gas in this area at night. Which she did. I don't think Sarah is marrying him just for that- but still, it makes a good story.