My sister Sara and I are twins. We had celebrated our birthdays together every year for the past 20 years except this one, our 21st birthday.
Tomorrow we would turn 21 and she was over in Quate. She had joined the army reserves to help pay for college. I remember when she joined she was so excited. She told me how she would only have to spend a couple weeks each summer and go to some meetings. She was thrilled that she would be able to go to school and they would pay for it. This was the first thing we were not doing together.
After 9/11 everything changed. Sara was called up for active duty. I was so scared, but she told me not to worry everything would be OK. I remember the night before she left. We were talking about the summer we were ten. We had gone to a Christian church camp. We had both accepted Christ into our hearts. We talked about heaven and what we thought it would be like. She thought it would be wonderful, where I was a little scared. Of the two of us, she was always the more adventurous one. She didn’t seem to be afraid of anything.
As I got ready for bed, I said my prayers and asked God to take care of Sara and keep her safe. Then I climbed into bed thinking about the party tomorrow. I wished Sara could be there with me.
I woke around 3AM sensing something, but not sure what. Still half asleep, I looked around. The only light in my room was the moon shinning brightly on my bed through the curtain. That was when I noticed my sister Sara sitting on the end of my bed. I squealed with joy. “What are you doing here?”
“I wouldn’t miss our birthday for anything,” she replied in a quite voice.
“When did you get here? Why didn’t you call?” I said.
“We can talk about that later.” But then she said, “Do you remember before I left we were talking about what heaven would be like? You said it scared you. Well, I just wanted to tell you there is nothing to be afraid of. I know it is wonderful. I saw Nana and she told me it is everything and more then I ever thought it would be and that we should never be afraid!”
“What are you talking about? Nana passed away two years ago. How could she talk to you?” I questioned.
I could barely hear her say, “I’m really tired and I need to go now, but I just wanted to tell you to never be afraid, Jesus loves us. Please don’t ever question that. Happy birthday.”
Then she left my room.
Thinking she was going to bed, I went back to sleep delighted she would be at the party tomorrow.
I woke again at 6AM to the phone ringing. It was my Mom. She said, “Jen I have some bad news.” I could hear she was crying. I thought she was going to say my grandpa Sam had died, but instead she said, “Last night at 3AM our time Sara’s convoy was hit in Haswa, and she was killed instantly.”
“NO,” I yelled. “That can’t be. She is here! She came in last night.” I dropped the phone and ran to Sara’s bedroom. No one was there. I looked through the rest of our apartment but found no one.
I went back to the phone crying, “Mom she was here! I know she was.”
My mom said, “you must have been dreaming.”
My Sister’s body was flown home. She had a full military funeral. I still could not believe she was gone. They gave my parents her belongings but said her dog tags were not there. They didn’t know where they were.
After the funeral I went back to our apartment and walked into her room. I sat on the edge of her bed. A picture of the two of us was laying on the night stand beside her bed. I picked it up and under it was her dog tags. Instantly I knew she had been here. She had wanted to let me know she was okay and that I should never be afraid or question God because he loved us. One day I’ll understand more, but until then, “Thanks Sara, I will miss you so much! Happy Birthday!”
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