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Shane's Homecoming

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The black government-owned cars slowly drove up to the tiny two story, yellow house, which fit into the suburban Virginian area very well. I glanced out the window and saw the rain pounding down on the earth. I could see a patriotic colored banner hanging over the garage, that read, "Welcome Home Shane!" I took a deep breath as a huge lump began to settle in my throat. I've dreaded this moment for days. Yet, Shane's family has dreaded this moment ever since he enlisted.
The other soldier and I got out of the car and gracefully shut the doors. We walked up the pebbly driveway, passing an old worn-out basketball hoop. That was the same basketball hoop that Shane and I would shoot at everyday when we were kids. I refocused myself as we walked up the squeaky wooden steps. The other soldier rang the old doorbell and we stood, awaiting the invitation inside.
As we patiently stood, I quickly observed the soldier. He was young, a mere eighteen years old. His grayish formal uniform was neatly clothed on his tall figure. He was only a kid, why is he here? Then, I looked at my reflection in the rusty clear screen door. I noticed the extreme detail that went into the uniform, which clothed my tall muscular figure. I squinted and saw that my hat sat on my short sandy hair expressing that I was in the army. I began to think of the millions of times that I stood on the fragile porch with Shane. Then, I reminded myself that I would never experience that moment again.

A petite middle-aged woman came to the door and opened it. She was dressed in an old pair of Levi's and a olive green sweater. Seeing her reminded me of the countless times she picked us up from basketball practices and lacrosse games. She saw me, the other soldier, and sadly, no Shane. She realized why we were here and burst into tears. Shane's father came to door and embraced his wife.

"Why don't you men come in inside." He whispered.

We nodded and followed him inside. I shut the door as the parents went to go get Shane's fifteen year old sister. I saw a colorful little sign hanging above the door. This sign read, "SHANE'S HOMECOMING...2 DAYS!" I sighed, realizing that this was going to be harder than I thought. The other soldier waited for me as the family settled in the living room. We walked by the dining room and saw construction paper and glue sticks. Their were little cards all around the room. thanking Shane for his bravery in the war. We arrived in the living room and sat on chocolate brown leather couch. I saw a little rip on the edge of the arm. I remember that rip. Shane and I were five. We were playing Indians and Cowboys, and my plastic spear ripped the couch. I woke up from my tad daydream and looked at the family's sorrowful and confused faces. I cleared my throat and began the routine speech

"Shane Randal died last week on Thursday while fighting for our country. Due to the strict commands of the United States government, I am not permitted to go into details at this time."

I could see the salty tears running down the family's faces. I looked to the older soldier. He swallowed the sadness and had to excuse himself. He left the room and I nodded to signal that he could leave. This was way to much for such a young being. Shane's mother wiped away the watery mess on her face and managed to get out a few words.

"Thank you so much Travis. I'm sure that if Shane were to have anyone bring him home, he would want it to be you. Please excuse me."

I could hear her struggling to hold back her tears. She walked to he room covering her aging face and left me sitting there in the gloomy setting. Shane's father laid back in his chair, clenching the leather with his large hands as he tried to stay strong for his daughter. Shane's younger sister sat on a small wooden bench near the front window. She starred out into the cruel dismal world. She was in a trance as the tears streamed down her face. Her makeup was running down her porcelain cheeks beneath her wide-open chocolate eyes. I truly understood how hard it was for them, for it was hard for me too. I glanced at the clock and realized that it was time to go.

"Thank you for your time. The government and the United States Army are extremely sorry for your loss and are willing to provide anything to you at your request. Good day."

I got up and walked out of Shane's house once again. I tried my hardest to keep my composure. All of a sudden, I heard the door slam behind me as I nearly reached the car. I heard quick faint footsteps and turned around. Shane's sister ran straight into me and wrapped her arms around me. I remember the day she was born. We've been like brother and sister since day one. She sobbed and I embraced her. The rain came down heavy, as if God was as upset about his death as we were. She backed away and looked into my deep blue eyes.

She choked, "Travis, I know their are rules you must follow, and I know that the details are private. But please answer me this, What were his last words?"
I sighed, "Buddy, this is it. I love you man. Tell my family that I love them, and that I don't want them to be sad. Just tell them Goodbye for me."

She intently listened and the tears continued to flow, from both of our faces. I gently kissed the top of her head and climbed into the car. We drove away leaving an Innocent family that was once so whole, now teared apart. I looked out the back of the window and saw Shane's sister kneeling on the ground looking up into the heavens.

Shane Randal died April 9th 2009, in the line of battle. He was not just a friend, nor a fellow soldier. He was a brother, He touched the hearts and souls of everyone he came in contact with. From school, to sports, to relationships, Shane excelled and encouraged all. He was a smart man, who all will miss. While bringing Shane home I learned how important it is to be strong for those who you love. I learned that while I lost a huge influence in my life, it will never amount to the remorse and sadness that Shane's family must deal with. For today, I grew up. Today, I was strong for family, even though I felt depressed inside. Today, I was strong for Shane. Today, I become a Man.





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