Raymond Storms: How would you describe us as kids?
Derrick Storms: Complete opposites.
DS: You were always the good one everybody liked you, you know, you would be talking to the elderly neighbor up the street. I was getting in trouble blowing up mailboxes.
RS:…I just remember you being so cruel. Like, telling me one day that kids really can fly, but you have to really trust. So we went on that rickety swing set, and I remember you pushing me, saying, ‘Now jump, and think of a happy thought.’ And I screamed out ‘pizza.’ And I, I fell into mom’s rosebush. And your response to me was, ‘Oh, because you’re so fat, you should have said two happy thoughts.’
DS: I was really at war with the world. I didn’t know if I would ever be close to anybody.
RS: I feel like when our relationship started to shift was when we found out that you were gonna be deployed to Iraq.
RS: And I remember grandma making me call you. And you were like, ‘What?’ And grandma was just like looking at me with those dark eyes, and I was like, alright, I’m gonna say something vulnerable. And I said, I was always envious of you as a kid. And you were like, so quiet. You said, ‘I’ve always been jealous of you. Everyone wants to be your best friend, and, I scare people.’
DS: I think, when you’re faced with your mortality, I began to take the meaningful things in my life more seriously. I remember, we were just getting ready to go into An Nasiriyah, and a reporter had a global cell phone, and I said, ‘Do you mind if I make a call on that?’
RS: At that time, I was in music school for opera, and you literally were like, ‘The Marines here don’t believe you’re gonna be the next Pavarotti. Show em! Show em! Sing the National Anthem.’ And they were like, ‘Fucking siiiing! Hoo ha! Hoo ha!’ And I remember just starting to sing, ‘Ooooh say can–’ just starting to sing the national anthem. And they went ballistic. [laughs] It was like night and day.
DS: Did you ever think we’d be close?
RS: …No…You were walking rage. There was so much anger that I had towards you as a child. But I’m grateful for it now, because I forged that into this white hot steel of love.
DS: I guess I just needed help.
RS: Mm hm.
DS: You need somebody kind of showing you the way. You know, that lighthouse to help you cross over. I’m thankful for you for that.
RS: Seeing you bloom into this like, sensitive, loving human being, there’s no way someone could tell me like miracles don’t exist.
DS: It feels a lot better on this side, that’s for sure.