You probably don’t remember me, but I certainly remember you. Actually, my earliest memories of you are in church. You and your sister Erin sat in front of my family often in church. Both of you would turn around and smile at me. I just remember thinking what beautiful children you were with your brown hair, you with big brown eyes, and your sister’s green. I was probably 13 and your mom asked if I would babysit. You were about four years old. I talked to Erin recently… she loves you so much and said I could write.
I babysat you and Erin several times, but I remember the first time the most! This is probably because your mom wanted me to cook some hamburgers for y’all on a countertop grill. I was very nervous that I would get it wrong. I don’t remember messing up or either of you complaining. Actually, I just remember playing with y’all and something about making sure you were in bed on time. Honestly, I think it’s all fuzzy to me because you and your sister were such easy children to babysit …. just very sweet.
So many years passed without me realizing it and we all grew up! I had a little boy of my own. He’s 19 now, but used to remind me a little of you. When he was little, he had tousled brown hair, too, and his eyes are big and blue. Actually, I have three children. I’m am grateful that they live in a free country. I know it’s because of you and other brave men and women. Today, Memorial Day, we will be spending time together, but I promise to tell them why we have that freedom. When my oldest was 17, there was some talk of a mandatory draft and it frightened me as a mother. I mean, you’re 22 and that’s so young! I actually heard a pastor on Sunday talking about how we envision our soldiers as older, bent over veterans from wars long past on walkers and wheelchairs, but I know better, Drew. So many of our soldiers are just boys like you.
Erin told me that after 9/11 you had to immediately fly out on a helicopter. I didn’t realize you are a sniper… that’s also the name of her dog! She mentioned how worried she was because she couldn’t reach you, but you called her that night to reassure her that you were okay. And because big sisters REALLY love their younger brothers (I know because I have two), she also told me that you couldn’t disclose your location to her but for her never to forget how much you love her. I can promise you that she hasn’t forgotten at all. You sent her a birthday card that said, “Thank you for being a great sister and friend.” She has your handwriting on a tattoo with an infinity symbol. That’s definitely a great sister.
And that’s why I wanted to write… just to say thank you and that we will never forget you, Drew, or any of the other selfless men and women who sacrificed their lives for something bigger than the rest of us. You are not forgotten. I know you’re forever 22…. but I will always see you as the little boy with the big brown eyes smiling at us in church.
This blog is dedicated to the memory of Sergeant Drew Rahaim. He was killed on February 16, 2005, two weeks after his twenty-second birthday (Jan.31). Sergeant Rahaim was on voluntary patrol when the road collapsed under his humvee. The humvee then flipped into a canal. Before he died, Drew sent his sister Erin a birthday card that read, “Thank you for being a great sister and friend.” Drew, thank you for being a great friend …. and hero to us all.
A special thank you to Erin Rahaim for continuing to be a great sister and honoring her brother through this blog. She was gracious and generous with her time and memories.