I love you, Dominic.

March 16, 2024

March 16, 2024

“You need to fight, Maria,” said my girlfriend tearfully as she took tea bags and snacks out of her purse. I told her I was ok, but she insisted on visiting me. It was Friday and I was in bed at 3pm. My stomach was in knots and there were fears of obstruction. I had found out days prior my brother passed away and similarly to my mother’s death just a little over two years prior –

I was the messenger.

On Monday I was standing in line waiting to pick up my rental car after someone hit me from behind a week prior. When I saw the unfamiliar number, I wasn’t expecting news my oldest and only brother was found deceased earlier that morning. A wave of grief, sadness and relief overwhelmed me. He had been challenged for several years and his heart was weak from past drug use. I knew he was in so much emotional and physical pain, especially after our mother’s earthly departure. We often jokingly said his umbilical cord was still attached to her throughout his life.

He was what many describe as ‘a good boy’ with a kind heart. Being premature and growing up in an Asian household was challenging for him as he struggled with learning. This insecurity coupled with the energy of his early home environment, led him down various path where he sought confidence, validation, acceptance, and control.

Being just one year and four days apart, there’s not many birthdays I remember celebrating without him. Growing up we often found each other at night, talking about deep subjects like the stars, the moon, and the meaning of life. When we became preteens, our conversations evolved to classmates and crushes. As we all departed one by one from our parent’s home, I know he missed the unity and security from our childhood.

Once he surprisingly called me while I was living in San Francisco. He had begun ferociously reading and had a stable job and girlfriend. In his awakening he said, “Do you remember how I didn’t feel good enough? I always felt useless and wanted to prove everyone wrong?” My heart sank as I remembered his challenging experiences growing up. “Today I realized how much you’ve always believed in me. I don’t want to prove people wrong anymore. I want to prove Maria, right.”

I cried.

Years later in the middle of my battle with Bulimia, I discovered he was also battling his own demons. I knew intuitively that we were both coping with similar pains but in different ways. I chose perfectionism, and he chose escapism – yet both led to destruction. In my healing journey I deeply understood that trauma isn’t necessarily what happens to you, but in you, when you witness it – especially to someone you love.

It’s easy to identify anyone’s flaws and see it as a “one person’s issue”, when in fact, it’s a family/community issue. I recently understood this more fully when I dealt with my son’s behavioral challenges at school. In less than a year I got divorced, broke my arm, was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer, and lost my only brother.

At the same token – In less than one year, my sons also experienced divorce, an injured mother, cancer fears and the loss of their uncle. When one undergoes challenges, we all go through challenges. My mom wasn’t the only one sick, we were all experiencing her sickness. My brother wasn’t the only one experiencing drug use, we were all deeply affected by the fears, hopelessness, frustration and anger surrounding it.

We are all connected.

As I sat in bed in pain, I could feel my girlfriend’s concern. Family was texting me to go to the hospital and my doctor coincidentally called earlier that morning to discuss my low iron issues, again. He wanted me to be immediately seen.

During this vulnerable period in our family’s world, I can feel the fears and desire for me ‘to fight for my life’ because we couldn’t take anymore loss.

I didn’t go. I intuitively knew the problem. My brother just died. I am grieving. All week, while I was logically explaining his ending to others, my whole system was yelling internally. I missed my first playmate. Another chapter, closed. I knew there was no medication that could alleviate what I needed to walk emotionally through. I said I was ok, but my body was not ok.

I am listening.

I am learning.

I am leaning into all the feelings…knowing that I couldn’t distract myself from processing unwanted pain any longer. I haven’t been “fighting” anything the last several months, I’ve been feeling it, seeing it, and releasing it, every day.

I’m listening to my heart. And right now it says, I still believe in you Dominic. Thank you for being my brother, for suffering in ways I didn’t have to because I was a witness to yours. Thank you for protecting me in our youth. For always being there for me and becoming my guardian angel. I love you.

We were 15, 16, 17 and 18 here.
Thanksgiving 2023
Dominic Kang 11/22/79 – 2/19/24

17 Comments

  • Reply M San Nicolas March 18, 2024 at 9:30 pm

    It’s unimaginable what you’re going through and what you’ve been going through. Thank you for always speaking your truth.

    • Reply Maria Kang March 18, 2024 at 10:49 pm

      Thank you reading and resonating. It truly means a lot.

  • Reply Janelle March 18, 2024 at 11:00 pm

    I love you, your thoughts and how they form words on paper, Maria. It’s so true were all affected by the things happening to those around us and trauma, guilt and grief will wait a lifetime for us so it’s best we start our hour by now. You have to feel it to heal it. I know Dominic is working hard for you.

    • Reply Maria Kang April 5, 2024 at 2:16 pm

      YES. Feel it, to heal it. Thank you for being one of my dearest friends Janelle.

  • Reply Gina Dela Cruz March 18, 2024 at 11:10 pm

    I’ve been following you for a couple years now. We have a lot in common. I use to run my own care facility in Santa Cruz for 10 years until I was diagnosed with kidney failure. Then in 2017 I got my transplant. Then my younger brother was diagnosed with kidney failure and started home dialysis. This was tough to deal with. On Oct. 19, 2022 , I found my brother unresponsive in his room and this was 2 days after my bday. This was the toughest day of my life besides having my mom pass away in 2003 from cancer. So many challenges in life but we have to be strong for our kids! Sending you healing prayers, Maria! ❤️🙏✝️

    • Reply Maria Kang April 5, 2024 at 2:15 pm

      Wow, Gina. So many challenges. God Bless you.

  • Reply HN March 18, 2024 at 11:18 pm

    Your words are always so chilling in the most resonating and relatable ways. Thank you for being such a light in our community. You seek and speak so much truths, the deepest ones that are so hard to handle for many. Keep doing you, please. Praying for yours!

    • Reply Maria Kang April 5, 2024 at 2:15 pm

      Thank you for your prayers.

  • Reply Lu March 19, 2024 at 1:36 am

    Aloha Maria ,

    Mahalo for sharing with us about the beautiful relationship that you guys had , sending my condolences to you and your family. I’ve been following you since your No More Excuses Diet book release , and I must say that I’ve appreciated your way with words , being brave to speak truth as it’s shifted my perspective on many topics.

    ~ Lu

    • Reply Maria Kang April 5, 2024 at 2:15 pm

      Thank you for reading, resonating and sharing your thoughts here. It encourages me to continue writing and sharing.

  • Reply Shivani March 19, 2024 at 4:29 am

    I can’t imagine what you are going through, I am truly sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your brother’s story with us. Sending you love and strength.

    • Reply Maria Kang April 5, 2024 at 2:14 pm

      Thank you for reading and resonating

  • Reply Ampi March 19, 2024 at 11:18 am

    I was crying while reading this Maria. God is with you through all this. He will never forsake you. You are a very strong woman. Keep fighting and keep the faith

    • Reply Maria Kang April 5, 2024 at 2:14 pm

      Thank you

  • Reply Olive March 19, 2024 at 11:51 am

    Speechless

  • Reply Iyanna Jennings March 20, 2024 at 10:11 pm

    Thank you for being a light Maria. I love you girl <3

    • Reply Maria Kang April 5, 2024 at 2:14 pm

      Thank you Iyanna

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