I woke up this morning and the first thing that popped into my head was this memory of a waterfall that was near our house in Fiji.
Dana and I used to go there, walking through a nearby village to get to it. The waterfall was surrounded by rocks (seems like waterfalls usually are, aren’t they?). Dana would climb up the high rocks and jump with gusto into the pool below while I sort of plastered my pasty white limbs in fear to the low rocks. It would take me at least half an hour to summon the courage to jump, what, 2 feet?! And Dana, the kid with the golden limbs, sailing happily from the high rocks, was usually the one who would help me.
“Come on, Meriah!” he’d say, “YOU CAN DO IT.”
I’d call Dana ‘The Golden Boy” because he was so golden. His hair was golden, his tanned arms and legs. His smile, joy. The way that everyone loved him. His athletic ability, coordination. Dana was just good at everything.
Contrast that with who I was for a lot of my childhood – the too-tall, awkward girl with scars all over her face, coke-bottle glasses, limp hair and big fat hearing aids and you might think it would sting that I had a Golden Brother. But oh! No way!
I loved my brother. He was my best friend, my confidante. He was easily one of the most popular kids in school in Fiji and I can’t remember one instance in which he did not stop and shine his light on me, include me, help me out, make everything okay.
I’m crying as I type, partly because my memories are so happy, and also because I miss and love him. I am so scared right now.
Mack is slumped in my lap, with his hands in my armpit (??). My tears are dripping on his head.
It reminds me of how, when I was suffering from massive post-partum depression (and undiagnosed PTSD), I left the Bay Area and went to stay with Dana up in Humboldt. I needed a place to recover and he was always my support system. When Mack would be screaming his head off and not stopping for anything, Dana would pick up Mack and do some of his baby-whispering magic and get him to sleep.
My Golden Brother. The big guy who shines and makes everything right with his smile, joy and love.
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.