On the surface, there’s really nothing remarkable about Brem. What usually makes him stand out in the guild— aside from his thirst for Alliance blood— is his atrocious spelling. In fact, he’s taken a sort of grotesque pride in his inability to type coherently and loves to poke at himself for it.
He’s gone down in guild history as the person who accidentally shot the Maiden of Virtue while we were discussing the strat: one moment, we were placing people around the chamber; the next moment, we hear a distinctive fwipfwipfwip! and his pet Skatz went zooming by in a pixelated blur of black and white. We still laugh about it to this day.
In the off-times when we’re not raiding, prepping to raid, or in hot pursuit of Alliance kills; when the guild is quiet and it’s just the few of us, and we can actually talk— that’s when Brem becomes Mike.
Mike is human, just like you and me. He’s been to other countries. He’s been in the Army. He’s fought in a few wars. He has bled, and he’s been injured. He’s got a few scars— ones you can see with your eyes, and ones that only the truly privileged know about.
He’s a veteran.
I remember the time he logged in during the day, when I still stayed at home full time with the Whelpling. It must have been a Saturday or Sunday because my husband was online, too. There was just the three of us online. Mike told us about his latest visit to the folks at Veteran Affairs (VA). Then, he told us about the IED that went off too close and nearly took out his hearing— but he was grateful that it was just his hearing that almost went, even though it ended his military career. He told us about the PTSD.
I remember being very humbled. I was humbled by his story, his bravery, and his confidence.
One Veteran’s Day, a couple of years back, I sent him a tell to say, “Thank you.” In my head, it didn’t seem like enough. To those of us who are on the outside looking in, it never seems like enough. I asked him how he was and he told me the therapy was helping. He was in school to pursue a criminal justice degree and wanted to work in security. Jokingly, with a self-deprecating smile I could sense, he said his writing had improved while in school… And proceeded to make five typos.
Then, compulsively, in a lull of the conversation, I said, “I wish I wasn’t so cowardly and had joined the military.”
He understood the sentiment, probably more than I understood it myself. That’s why Mike replied, “No. You raise that little girl of yours, and you live your life.”
And that’s when I finally understood.
I keep thinking that he added, “That’s why I fought in the war,” to the end of what he said, but he hadn’t. It was something my brain tacked on to remind me of the significance of what Brem said. To live, and forge a meaningful existence during my limited time on Earth; to be his friend and guildmate in Warcraft and to take a moment to say, “Thanks,” was gratitude enough for Mike.