A Dream – 2

shaos

Four days after I posted A Dream, my brother Shao passed away. He died around 5 am on Saturday morning. I had planned to visit him on that day; he left before I got there.

The day before Shao passed away, our phone rang twice in the morning, a single ring each time; caller ID was “Unknown”. I said to my husband, “This is weird. It never happened like this before.” Later, when I was alone in kitchen preparing meal, I smelled cigarette smoke. “Dad, is that you? Hmm… Shao?” I said loudly. Of course, I didn’t get any answer. At dinner time, for no reason, tears came. A couple of times, I almost couldn’t hold it back.

Saturday morning when I heard the news, right away, I knew that Shao had stopped by to say goodbye the day before. And knowing that, in a way, comforted me.

I have been thinking about Shao’s life since he passed away. What had gone wrong? Four out of five of us are doing okay, what made him ended up having a life so different from the rest of us and so miserable? For years, I had wondered that if I had spent more time being his friend when we grew up, would he still end up like this?

He accidentally answered my question a year ago. He told me I always followed him around when I was little, and how much he hated it back then. He said in an apologizing voice. Hearing that, I felt relieved because it was important for me to know that it was not me abandoned him.

About four or five years ago, one day, with an embarrassing voice he said to me, “Helen, I don’t know what love is.” I was caught by surprise, and desperately wanted to explain “love” to him, but I couldn’t find right words. At last, I said, “Joining the club! You are not the only person who has that problem.” He was disappointed. Then I added, “Remember when I hit our garage door that day you came right away and fixed it for me? Remember when you lived by yourself, several times I went and cleaned your room during my lunch break at work? That caring is part of love, I guess.”

At the end of our conversation he seemed not being convinced by anything I’d said. But was it really true that he didn’t know what love was? I knew for the fact that he loved our family a lot, probably more than any one of the rest of us. When our neighbor remodeled their house to install a modern toilet, Shao remodeled our kitchen, bathroom all by himself (we couldn’t afford hiring anyone). When he saw others had fancy skates, he handmade one for Karin. If that wasn’t coming from love, what could it come from?

Deep down, I suspect Shao’s biggest problem was that his love was too huge and too pure that made it hard for receivers to appreciate or accept. Soon after he bought his first house, he pointed at a house on the same street and said to me, “I am going to buy that one for Mom and Dad, and then this for Chris, this for Karin… our family will be together one day.” I thought he was crazy. “But, each of us has his/her own house, and we live in different cities,” I said to him.

I remember asking Shao, “So, every time I told you I loved you, it meant nothing to you? What about all the things I have done for you?” Shao didn’t respond.

Thinking back, true, I had been telling him I loved him since 6 or 7 years ago (saying “I love you” was not part of our culture then), but, even I know that, every time there was this invisible “BUT” hanging at the end. “I love you, but I wish you can stop drinking.” “I love you but you have to listen to me.” Maybe it was that invisible “BUT” blinded him for the love I was trying to convey?

I am not blaming myself here. Even though I wanted to figure out what had happened to Shao, I know it’s very little to do with regret. I believe we all have a container in our heart for things we don’t like but we have to live with… like work stresses, misunderstanding between friends, drunken brother saying meaningless things that he wouldn’t remember on the next day… etc. and when that container is full, we become angry and we couldn’t take any more. I had done my best with the container I had, I believe.

(What I didn’t know and have learned recently is that there is a way to make the container bigger. 😉

I apologize for this long story… I guess what I am trying to say is that we, human beings, are more complicated than I have imagined.

What I am really trying to say is: I miss Shao.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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About Helen C

A retired computer programmer who loves writing and photographing, and has managed to publish a YA novel "Jin-Ling’s Two Left".
This entry was posted in Memoir. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to A Dream – 2

  1. loisajay says:

    Helen, I am so sorry to read this about your brother. You have such a beautiful way of writing things down. This post, although it is sad, is also a wonderful to your brother. And, yes, life is so very complicated, isn’t it? Has it always been so or do we just make it that way? Love to you, my friend. XO

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cee Neuner says:

    My sweet Helen, Shao will be missed by you that I know for sure. You did love him. Well perceive and receive love differently. How it can be so different from family member to family member is the miraculous wonderful of life. I know he now is in place where he can feel your love for him. Stay well my friend and be gentle with yourself. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Cee. This is harder to write than I thought. I started 10 days ago, I think. Shao definitely is in a better place now. I am happy for him and for my nephew who is taking care of him. Ten years of bedridden is too long.
      Take a good care of yourself, please.

      Like

  3. Jet Eliot says:

    A beautiful and well-written story, Helen. It’s clear there was so much love, and still is. Best wishes in this fragile time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Anabel Marsh says:

    So sorry to hear about your brother. You obviously cared about him a lot. Hope you are ok – take care of yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Adhika Lie says:

    I am so sorry to hear about Shao, Helen. If Shao know not what love was, I think he would have known it now. I think love is a lot bigger than words. Maybe Shao find it hard to articulate it in words, but his deeds go a long way to show that he live love. May he now find his eternal rest in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Adhika. Shao and I are similar in many ways. I am luckier though. I had asked “what is love?” “what is the purpose of life?” many times earlier of my life, and each satisfying answer helped me moving forward at that particular time. Shao didn’t ask; he was a man, who had too much pride.
      Have a wonderful day.

      Like

  6. joannesisco says:

    Oh Helen – I’m sure this was a very difficult story for you to write.. so many memories, so many emotions. I’m so sorry for your loss and that you’re still trying to process what it all meant. I hope you find peace in his memory ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. restlessjo says:

    It seems tragic that so much love could not be expressed and understood at the time, but I guess that is life in many cases. At least we know he’s now at peace, Helen, but I’m sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Jo. You are right that that is life in many cases. It bugs me when there is a problem that I can not solve. But, at the same time, I understand. I guess 😉
      Have a great day.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Edward Tan says:

    My thoughts are with you. Your brother will be proud of having you as his sister. Wish him rest in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Edward. At the last two years of his life, he did mention a couple of times that I was a good sister to him. And a week or two before he died, I managed to write him a letter (I hadn’t written any letter for at least 15 years!) telling him I was glad to have him as my brother. I was glad that I did.
      Have a good day.

      Like

  9. Amy says:

    This must be one the most difficult story to write, but you are telling it calmly. I felt I was listening to you word by word; and I’m saddened… Your brother Shao knew you loved him, perhaps he needed verbal confirmation from you, and you did give to him… You had been his great supporter, I’m sorry for your loss, Helen.
    I never did get the notification of your post from my reader, I’m so very late. I apologize Helen.
    Do take care of yourself. Hugs ~Amy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Amy. Unfortunately, I am getting into the age that saying-goodbye-to-loved-one has become more often. And that makes me look at things differently and determine to live even more positively. I am blessed to have friends like you!
      The notification does work strangely from time to time. I know I had missed some posts too, but I haven’t figured out which one I missed ;-(
      Have a great day.

      Like

      • Amy says:

        It’s very kind of you to call me friend, Helen. I haven’t been supportive to you as a friend should. For all you have gone through, you are still thinking positively. I really admire you. Take care, Helen.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Helen C says:

          Amy, you are more supportive than you know. 😉 If I need someone to talk to, you are one of the people I would go to. Being friends doesn’t mean you have to constantly checking on each other. I know when I need someone, you will be there for me ;-).

          Liked by 1 person

          • Amy says:

            So true, friends don’t need to checking on each other constantly. I’m so touched by your words. I guess we know ourselves a little better from our friends. 🙂 Going through what you have been, it takes much courage, and you share your stories graciously. I really admire you. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  10. Sue says:

    I’m so sorry, Helen! Mental illness and addiction are so hard for all – not just the person suffering with it but friends and family as well. I’m glad Shao had a loving sister in his life to ease some of his pain. Hugs and prayers to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lignum Draco says:

    Sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Lignum. When Jeanne was very sick, she told me not to worry about her. She said,”This is just a process. Everyone goes through this process.” I keep thinking of her words… I am blessed that I had had her for many years.
      Take care.

      Like

  12. Sibling relationships can be so hard. Part of us expects that because we are related there must be a bond stronger than with others. It’s hard to accept that often the only bond is that we share the same parents but maybe we have nothing else in common. We want there to be more and we’re sad and troubled when there isn’t, but one shouldn’t blame oneself for a simple fact of life. I’m sorry for your loss. Keep your friends close and love them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thank you, Steven. You brought up some point that I had never thought about before. You were absolutely right that I had assumed that my brother and I would (should) have a strong bond. Siblings are friends sent by God, I thought.
      “Keep your friends close and love them.” — what a great advice. I will! Thank you!
      Have a wonderful day!

      Like

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