I have been keeping a Go Bag for years now, left at the side of my bed, for times when I must rush to the aid of my mother who is widowed and lives in the house I grew up in and later returned to several times when my life didn't go smoothly.
Last night I slept in the room my parents let me fix up for my young daughter with glow-in-the-dark stars still up on the ceiling. Although my eyes are older and without glasses on, it really looks like the night sky shining just for me, even if it is just one small square. I can't describe the feeling of comfort these stars bring, nor the rattle and rumble of the train passing back and forth from New York. Even the train's whistle sings to my blood and bones, as I lay waiting for sleep.
In this room are family photos, book cases full of books, boxes of my mother's memories, her brother's short life, all that she has kept that isn't in her heart. Her heart that is no longer strong enough. Her brother died four months after serving three years on a minesweeper during WWII and making it home safely to Brooklyn, after a wedding, falling out of the back seat of a car that took a rain slicked road too fast.
Today is Veterans Day and she will pray for him, for my father, for all those who lost their lives, for all those who are currently serving, for men and women in her church and neighbors who all went to war to protect and serve. Today we will take out her brother's boxes and she will touch postcards he sent, worn letters, photographs of him in uniform, of him dancing. She will not cry, and she will tell the same old stories again, something that once bothered me. Soon she may not be here and I will wish that I had listened better. Today I will listen all day because I realized she has been her brother's keeper, longer than he was alive.