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In Fog: August 14

In Fog: August 14

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You can hear me read this by clicking below, or subscribing to the podcast at the end of this post.

You can hear me read this by clicking below, or subscribing to the podcast at the end of this post.

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While I had no Facebook memories yesterday, my facebook memories for today, August 14th, I had a post. 

A group of people posing for the camera

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Katherine, Meriah and Alison at Society for Disability Studies Conference, Atlanta, Georgia

At first glance, I thought I had written something about my brother being shot the day before, but then I realized I had written a blog post in the early morning about my friend Alison Piepmeier, who had just died.

When I re-read the post on the morning of the 14th (http://www.meriahnichols.com/a-walk-with-alison-piepmeier), I was stunned in a way.

I mean, I had written a blog post in the darkness before dawn, and published it. A blog post that so different from my reality in that moment, containing not even a hint of what was going on, that it almost screams some kind of cognitive dissonance. 

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August 14th. I remember this day from 4 years ago so well.

My dear friend Helena and her husband Bryan and daughter Belen and my kids and I, we walked around the Mattole beach on the Lost Coast that morning.

lagoon of mattole beach
the misty lagoon

The lagoon.

sand
Mack holding a driftwood sword
mack running
Mack, running on the beach
moxie laughing and playing in sand
moxie playing with sand and Micah on his stomach
my dog, Blue

I lay on the hot sand and tried to be in the moment, but I felt like a thick fog was enveloping me; I couldn’t focus. Despite being completely sure that Dana was going to walk out of the hospital – because that’s what heroes always do – I felt a sense of the surreal. That nothing was as it should be, that somehow the world had shifted, didn’t feel right in the core.

I packed a suitcase for my kids and I. 

drawing in the dust of the car
drawing in the dust of our car
Micah and Belen
Micah and Belen
Helena and Bryan
Helena and Bryan

Helena and Bryan readied, and I drove us all to Eureka from the Lost Coast. I left Helena and her family in a motel downtown, from which they were going to rent a car and continue their time in California by themselves. 

I pointed my massive Suburban first to Blue Lake, where my brother and his 4 kids lived. I don’t remember why I went to Blue Lake – was I supposed to pick up something? Check on something? I don’t remember. I just remember inching onto the highway towards Trinity Alps, and I remember my son Micah making a joke about how this was probably the only way Uncle Dana would rest; by actually being in the hospital.

I remember laughing. Dana was a notorious worker, and the joke was like all good jokes are, a slice of a side of truth.

I remember the drive being endless. 

It normally takes an hour and a half to two hours to drive from the Lost Coast to Eureka; then from Eureka to Redding it’s about three hours. But that day the total was more like seven hours, because there was roadwork being done on 299. 

This, of course, in a car, alone with 3 little kids, with my mind wrapped in a fog of disconnect and surreality. The road was hot. The cars were backed up, stretching on and on as far as I could see. My kids were not whining or complaining – I’m sure they knew where I was, mentally and spiritually, and had the uncanny wherewithal to be patient in their spaces.

In this all, in the brain fog I was driving through, in the feeling of disconnect, I was still absolutely sure that Dana was going to walk out of the hospital. The idea that he might not was not even remotely present. 

The disconnect and brain fog I was experiencing was inexplicable to me, I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t focus, why I was so distressed spiritually. 

We went straight to the hospital. 

My niece Yu Han watched my kids in the ICU waiting room while I went in and saw Dana.

A picture containing room, person, indoor, scene

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I took this picture for us to have something to smile over as we would talk about that time he got shot, and was in ICU, and, “holy cow, Dana! This is what you looked like!”

I remained absolutely convinced that Dana was going to walk out of there. That he was simply needing some time to turn inwards and recover, but that he would be out of there in no time. I can’t even explain how SURE I was of this, how there was no space at all with doubt in me.

I took my tired kids

And we went to our motel, to a room that my nephew Jrin Long had reserved for us.

Now, this is what happened. This is how Dana got shot:

Jrin Long (Dana’s eldest son) and Dana were at Dana’s farm. Four guys came down a slope, masked, with guns. 

They told Dana and Jrin Long to get on the ground. Dana (whom I found out later, had had a dream the previous night in which Jrin Long was shot), reached forward to take the gun from the guy. The guy shot Dana in the leg and the abdomen. 

The guys took Dana’s truck and drove off. 

Jrin Long – who is 5’7, somehow how got Dana’s 6’4 250+lb frame onto the back of his own small truck and drove an hour to the Mad River Hospital in Arcata. Mad River Hospital is a small country hospital, completely unequipped with gun wounds. They called Mercy Hospital in Redding for a helicopter airlift.

All of this I learned from Jrin Long there in the parking lot of the motel that night.

Jrin Long, so clearly wrapped in the throes of deep trauma and shock, telling me what happened and I wanted nothing more in that moment than to wrap him in a protective cocoon of healing, peace and solace. I wanted to be able to plug him into a channel of restorative love and light.

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Sara Roushan Allen

Saturday 14th of August 2021

I am still grieved at Dana’s passing & so enjoy your memories of him. I was one of his team leaders in Taiwan when he first met Li-Jini. In some ways I felt responsible for him & felt like a surrogate mom while we were in Taiwan. I also stayed with your mom & dad for about a week in Hawaii, on my way back to the mainland. But that was not my first meeting with the two of you. My daughter, Katrina (now Burlake, from Pahrump, NV) used to babysit the two of you & Dan Seals boys (#1 & #2), at Baha’i events at England Dan’s house in Laguna Nigel in So. CA. Dana was about 6 or 7. You might have been too young to remember. I think of him often. I have been following you & first subscribed under a Hotmail account which has since been hacked & cloned. Please check your records & destroy that old account which started (thundersong98. ….). My NEW account is

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