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August 20, 2016
Dana loved kids and was wonderful with them, in part, I think, because he had such a playful spirit himself. He exuded this sense of mischief, childlike glee in life.
My third child Mack was difficult for me when he was a baby. He would endlessly cry. I was going through a hard time with my marriage as well, with my husband largely absent. The overwhelm of 3 kids (5 and under), the anger of my husband when he was around, and a constantly screaming baby drove me to stay with Dana (who lived 7 hours away) more than a couple of times.
Dana would walk into the room in which I would be holding Mack (usually with tears streaming down my own face), take him and walk away. He’d whisper into Mack’s ear and almost immediately, Mack would be soothed.
Of course I loved my brother for that gift of solace that he gave to me. I loved him for the balm of peace and the comfort of knowing he could – and would – take care of anything.
As Dana lay in his coma, more than anything I wanted him to be taken care of in that same way he would take care of me, Mack, of everyone. I wanted Dana’s body to be healed, and I wanted his spirit to be held and soothed, for God to hold Dana as Dana had once held Mack and soothed him so.
This picture is of my son Mack and Daiyyan.
Daiyyan is Dana’s grandson, the son of Dana’s eldest son Jrin-Long, who was with Dana when Dana was shot.
Daiyyan, his parents, and his grandmother (- Dana’s first wife, Jeanie) all came back to Redding on August 20th.
I loved seeing these two together, my son Mack treating Daiyyan (who was the apple of Dana’s eye) so tenderly, with such affection.
That’s Jeanie, Dana’s first wife, and Daiyyan.
Dana and Jeanie met when he was 16 and she was 23, in Taiwan. They got married when he was 17 and their first child, Yu Han, was born when Dana was 18.
Dana and Jeanie were together for nearly 20 years and had 4 children together: Yu Han, Jrin Long, Jrin De and Yu Rou.
After they separated, both were in relationships with others and Dana re-married, a woman named Toni.
A couple of years into his marriage with Toni, and Dana wanted out. They lived separately on opposite ends of California, and Dana was struggling to find the words to end their marriage at the time that he was shot.
I know this because one of the last conversations I had with my brother was in reviewing Toni’s messages to him, and helping him craft the responses that he wanted to make.
When Dana was shot, Toni wanted to come up and be by his side. In unison however, all of us who were closest to him said, “no.” We were worried that her presence would trigger something negative in Dana.
Dana and Jeanie, however, were on amicable terms.
We were all waiting in the ICU together.
I loved these pictures in the hospital. Made it seem to me that they valued the spiritual component of healing. Dana, still deep in coma and going through surgery after surgery, needed that loving care, he needed to have, as the picture shows, Jesus to be watching over the shoulder of his doctor and inspiring him. His body was so torn.
We spent the day at the hospital and with our family and came back to our hotel room.
I wrote my first blog post about this on August 20th, “To the Edge of the Woods” – it’s linked here: https://www.meriahnichols.com/walking-edge-woods/
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.