But he's not alive. He's eternally 29 years old, and I haven't talked to or pretend-karate-chopped him for nearly four years. I think about him all the time, but not usually in a sad way. I think of him at Lin’s with that maroon apron on. I think of the grin on his face when Maryann took him skydiving. I think of how diligent he was in heading out to the lake early to get the good water. He would invite me along and teach me how to pull a skier vs. a wakeboarder.
But I rarely think of him consciously. Instead, he usually just pops into my mind at random moments and I suddenly realize he's there. I don't know why, but I just start thinking about him. But I don't think of memories; rather, I get pictures of Dana in my head. It's odd to think about someone that's been gone for so long. You stop remembering actual events, and instead remember them in pictures that you've seen. I always think of this picture first:
Most of you know that Dana is/was my 'favorite' brother - meaning we were the closest in age, in silliness, in interests, and in attitude. This is what I wrote about his death in my old blog. I miss him. I miss him a lot. I missed him the most on my wedding day. I'm really going to miss him when I have children that he won't be around to play with. But it generally hurts less and less as time passes.
I've had a few dreams about Dana, and one in particular has really stuck with me. I kick myself for not writing it down the morning I woke up and remembered it, but I estimate I had this dream last October. I woke up and told it to Josh, then I called Russ and told it to him. I'm pretty sure I told it to Maryann and my mom, and I've gone over it a thousand times in my head and remember it almost perfectly.
We were riding in the back seat of my mom's old blue car. It went Maryann, Dana was in the middle, and then me on the right. We were being silly and laughing and I suddenly turned and said to Dana, "Wait, we've had this conversation before. You're dead, aren't you?" and Dana smiled at me. Then suddenly it was just me and Dana on the side of a road (I think it was down the street from my folks' old house, near the winery) and we were standing next to a car with either the hood or the trunk up. We were talking and laughing again and as he shut the hood or trunk, I asked him why he didn't come back. "Don't you miss us? Don't you miss Maryann?" I asked him. He smiled at me again and told me that I didn't understand how great things were 'up there.' Then I woke up.
His smiles were peaceful in my dream - not creepy or weird. I think Dana is happy in Heaven. It will be so nice to see him again.
Happy birthday, Brother. I love you.