We had a big month with Nolan being sworn is as a Police Officer. We celebrate his accomplishment and his choice to serve and protect – putting his life in harm’s way for others. It was a very proud moment for all of us as we watched him in his dress blues, the gold striping on his sleeve, shoes shined to a mirror-like finish. He took his oath and then Mom pinned his badge on his chest. In one moment, a college graduate was now a Police Officer.
As I was driving to work a few days later, my mind wandered to another swearing in ceremony about seven years earlier. It was Robby’s ceremony when he was sworn into the United States Army right after basic training. Again, we were so proud in his royal blue pants, navy jacket lined with brass buttons, shoes shined to a mirror-like finish. His beret tilted on his head revealing the brow of a soldier.
Then it hit me. The picture that would never be. The picture that would never be was that of the older brother, the example, the inspiration, dressed in that same Army dress uniform, only now more decorated, standing proudly next to the younger brother dressed in his Police dress uniform, newly adorned with that shiny silver badge.
One brother’s influence
Robby was Nolan’s inspiration. Set to pursue business in college, I remember the conversation as if it were yesterday; “Dad…would you be upset if I did not pursue business?” You see, Robby taught me to follow my dreams, and my dream is to go into law enforcement.” And so it began.
The picture we of two brothers standing side-by-side, each in their respective dress uniforms will never be. There are thousands of pictures we should have that we will never see. Reflections, reminders of family celebrations, accomplishments, moments meant to be perfect that are, and will always be, incomplete. No matter how special, how jubilant, how joyful, there will always be that one thing missing.
So for me, I can only imagine the picture that should have been. I can only imagine the pride of a brother that would have glowed in that moment. I can see it, I can feel it, but I just can’t live it because it exists only in my mind where it will live as fiction forever. So instead, I just wipe the tears from my cheeks, take a deep breath and wait for the next picture that will never be.
What will it take? What will it take for parents to do what is needed to make sure they never have to deal with that one picture; the picture that will never be?