…And, exactly two years and a half from this day, U.S. Army Specialist Dustin Michael Brim left the battlefields of a country called Iraq and a military operation called “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
For my brother, there is rest, there is relief and there is peace. For “Operation Iraqi Freedom” there is no rest, no peace and no relief in sight. For Dustin Brim, he has peace, he does rest and he has been relieved of duty with honor…
The following essay is an excerpt from my upcoming book, “Without a Shot Fired: The Dustin Brim Story” – Lonnie
I can remember in August of 2003 when my stepfather and I were summoned to the hospital to pick up my brother. It was a Saturday and I had driven across the state to visit with my mother and stepfather. Lamar had been in the hospital for, literally, months. Slowly succumbing to Congestive Heart Failure. He was only 42 years old. It had been a two year battle. Sometimes he fought but most of the time, he just smiled, grinned and bore it. He always seemed so at peace about it.
There were offers and opportunities for a heart transplant and experimental drug therapy. Lamar said “No, this is my life, this is the way I am going to live it and I don’t want to waste the good heart of some other dying person on me.” He seemed satisfied that his years had been long enough. At times, it was frightening, actually horrific beyond words because of the agony, the disintegration of his body and the outward signs of a disfigured and diseased body.
As grotesque as that may sound, I can still see very vividly in my mind’s eye my brother with his blue-green paloured skin sitting on the sofa at Mom’s house. There he sat, looking straight at me, his brother taking his picture, with a slight, pleasant and almost happy smile. His dimples lighting his face as they always did just under his beautiful green eyes. He seemed as if he wished I could be as content and happy as he. I could never understand it. Two days later, Lamar, sitting upright in bed at Mom’s house, had his right hand extended, his body relaxed, his eyes closed and he was gone.
Mom was the first one to come into the room, as she had done so often while he was sick. He would sit up at the end of the hospice bed and put out his right arm. Mom would help lift him to his feet, to the bathroom and out to the porch for a cigarette and conversation. On August 19, 2003, Lamar did not miss the most important appointment of his life, past, present or eternal. He had remained routine, his hand was ready and his soul at peace. Only this time, Mom didn’t help him rise. She did hold his extended hand, but as soon as she touched it, she knew, someone else had been there already and guided him to the place he longed for, suffered for and needed to go. Mom knew Lamar was safe, angels had assured him, caused him to relax, rest, take relief and know peace beyond words. He was gone from here but somewhere better than our minds can enwrap.
On September 24, 2004, two years ago to this very day, U.S. Army Specialist Dustin Michael Brim lay in his hospital bed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. With friends, family and staff entering and leaving the room as if it were a tomb. All the medical equipment was in place and all last efforts affordable and imagineable were done and left in place. Larry had said goodbye to his son. He braced it and walked away holding in his heart his son never left behind in that room. Lori had stepped away briefly and returned at that approximate time.
The nurse greeted Lori immediately and, in a hurry, rushed her into the screaming quietness of the room. The bed half raised and Dustin, still clothed in the hospital gown of white with blue spatters, lay quietly, struggling each breath, eyes closed and “asleep” to all the things going on around him. He was entering into peace, into rest and into relief.
Lori reached over into the bed as best she could and took hold of her son. Her arms could not embrace him fully. Not that he was large, not in the least, not anymore, he was emaciated and only a very slight shell of the tall, strong handsome man he was not nearly seven months prior. It was just too encumbering. She couldn’t hold the 100 lbs. Of her son then, just as she could not when he were twice that weight on Christmas day, nine months before.
Now, she could only hold him and let her tears wet his face and lips in his sleep. She could press a kiss to his cheek under the closed eyelid that covered eyes as azure as the Caribbean Sea. Her only words, “The” only words, she had left: “Dusty, let go, honey. Don’t fight anymore. Let go Angel. Don’t fight, get your rest. I love you.”
With a matter a very short time, the rest of things procedural occurred. Lori left the room, went to the hallway and disappeared from her life. That was exactly two years ago to this day.
And, exactly two years and a half from this day, U.S. Army Specialist Dustin Michael Brim left the battlefields of a country called Iraq and a military operation called “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
For my brother, there is rest, there is relief and there is peace. For “Operation Iraqi Freedom” there is no rest, no peace and no relief in sight. For Dustin Brim, he has peace, he does rest and he has been relieved of duty with honor.
For the United States Army, the Department of Defense, the United States Government and each and every DAMNED ONE of Lori’s elected official, political representatives from city to state to nation have turned there back on her one request: “Where are my son’s belongings?” Not one CD, not one unfinished letter, not one pen, not one shirt from home, not one picture of him and his car. Nothing. Army regulations: 30 Days, period. Belongings must be returned to the next of kin. Medical records remain denied, if any still exist. Chest x-ray from pre-deployment, DNA samples not accounted for. No one, not one person, not her congressman, not her representative in the house, the senate state or national, not her own local government will even lift a finger to help dry a single tear for a dead American soldier, his mother, his friends and his family. No rest, No relief and No Peace.
Lonnie D. Story [send him email] is the author of “The Meeting of Anni Adams” and is working on “Without A Shot Fired: The Dustin Brim Story” Lonnie is a featured columnist at www.populistamerica.com.