Tomorrow my cousin Joey heads off to boot camp. He's joining the Army. I'm proud of him, because this has something he has wanted to do for a long time. I'm happy for him, because he's happy. And I'm terrified for him.
He's 22. He's a big boy and knows what he's doing. He also comes from a long line of military men. Our Uncle Jack was a Navy Seal--a Special Ops guy. And our grandfather served in the Navy in WWII. Seriously accomplished soldiers, these men. Especially Jack, who played a significant and clandestine role in a few key moments in more recent American History.
It has only been a couple of years since I first met Joey, since my biological father's side of the family was estranged from me for most of my life. But I made some big steps to change that in recent years, and my life is all the richer for it. For purely selfish reasons, Joey's leaving hurts: I wanted to get to know him better, and now he's going away.
But at least my kids will have a new hero. All of us will.
Love you, Joe.