When we first moved to Hawaii from Fiji, Dana was 14 and I was 13.
We were too young to work in America – and we were both pretty upset about it, as Fiji had had no such “child welfare” rules. Being suddenly dependent on our (broke) parents was awful.
Dana turned 15 (the legal age to work) first, and he immediately went out and got two jobs: one at the local frozen yogurt shop, and the other as a newspaper carrier. Since no-one checked in on their carriers, he gave me that job. I did the work; he got paid and he gave me the money.
Dana was that kind of brother.
I was so grateful it’s not even funny, even with those 4am Sunday morning (in Hilo rain!) drops.
Fast forward 30 years and I’m living in a house that was on my carrier route.
Sometimes I feel like things are coming full circle, that some things are looping around and, with the advantage of time and experience, becoming more clear. Things aren’t as confusing as they once were.
Other things – like the “how could ~ ‘s” and the “why did ~’s” are stronger than ever.
That’s the thing about experience: it’s one thing to not understand something because you are a child, and it’s another to be an adult and have children and not understand how someone could do something like that to a child.
All of these pieces are floating in this circle of mine, along with the memories of my brother and the missing of him.
I had a dream with Dana on the evening of what would have been his 46th birthday.
In it, he explained to me something I’ve been asking him in my dreams and my prayers this entire past year: why he left.
He told me in the dream that his leaving had everything to do with choices that he made in this life. It was shown to me in my dream as a linking – with each choice forming a link, and the next choice another link, and another, and so on.
It all ended in a consequence – only I don’t want to say “consequence” because that implies something negative. That wasn’t the implication in the dream. It was simply clear to me in the dream that all choices have a result, like cause then effect.
The result in Dana’s life with his choices was that he had to leave.
Everything in the dream was so full of love and clarity and I woke up feeling deeply happy. Like I understood.
And this is the thing: if Dana were around right now, he wouldn’t be hanging out with me. He’d be working, busy burning his candle at both ends, busy in a million ways trying to take care of everyone in his world and then some.
Busy trying to become who he needed when he was growing up.
The only way anything would ever be different is if he was still alive and I knew what I know now.
Knowing this, I’d climb into Dana’s truck for a long ride and I’d talk to him for 15 hours – just like I used to in Taiwan – and I’d reach him. I’d REACH HIM and things would change and he’d realize that he didn’t need to take care of anyone, truly, we’re okay, we’ll always be okay.
Then he’d be here, and he would be here like he was here when we were kids in Hilo.
Meriah Nichols is a career counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E). Deaf, with C-PTSD and TBI, she’s also a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.