The death certificate listed acute respiratory failure, and pulmonary edema as the cause of death. But Daniel also had a heart problem, not in the medical sense, the kind that could be treated with medicine or surgery. There was no fix for the condition of his heart, my brother literally died of a broken heart.
Permanently bruised, and tender to the touch, Daniels heart was overly cautious. When rejected or provoked he was known to fire back, lash out in harmless defense to shelter and protect his fragile unhealed wounds from being torn open. But when you got to know him, and he was sure you weren’t a threat, he let you see the real Daniel. My brother loved, he loved baseball, dogs, fishing and music, but his deepest abiding love was reserved for God and His most precious of gifts, babies and little children.
Daniel left this life owning nothing but a backpack with a change of clothes inside and his battery powered radio for the music he loved. He was without all the material things that are seen as great treasures. But, along life’s journey Daniel had in his possession something more important, something people would consider amazing given the brutality he suffered at the hand of our father. He was completely without greed, envy, bitterness and hated no one, not even our father. Never once did I hear Daniel speak against his abuser and if I spoke ill of him, he would excuse our father by saying “Lynda, it was the war.” It hurt Daniel less to have a noble reason for why our father treated him so badly.
One of my favorite memories of Daniel was the way he would end our conversations. He said; “Lynda, do you know why you put your shoes under your bed at night?” I always asked why, knowing what the answer would be. “So you have to fall on your knees in the morning.” Dying was not something Daniel was afraid of, it was living. It’s been five years since Daniels body was found in a dark lonely room in the ghetto of Mexicali, Mexico after years spent living under bridges, in parks and even in a box in an alley. Before Daniel died he called me, I asked him why Mexicali, Mexico he replied; “Lynda, people down here don’t see me as a bum, they think I’m somebody.” That’s all any child wants is to be seen as somebody.
He was somebody, he was my brother. My brother is finally free from the nightmare of his tortuous childhood, rest in peace little brother. I miss you everyday.