I had a dream last night that I was in my parents’ house sitting in the living room with my mom, discussing the invitation list for the wedding and who would be likely to come and who would not. I knew this was a dream immediately because I would never be sitting down to have any formal conversation about wedding planning with my parents. My mom just wants to know the date and location and little else, and the one time I’ve mentioned wedding venue research planning to my dad, he said, “Oh,” and then immediately changed the subject. The two of them never had a real wedding; they had the equivalent of a city hall wedding in Quy Nhon, and then my dad sent my mom on a plane to San Francisco while my dad finished his service in Vietnam. These were all practical decisions — no fuss, no flowers, nothing exciting or even remotely elaborate out of practical reasons (being in war-torn Vietnam) and financial reasons (both my parents were obviously broke and had no money, and neither did either set of their parents). So from their perspective, weddings aren’t really a necessity. If we had to be cynical about it, weddings are just an ostentatious way of showing off to the world how much you have to potentially spend, as well as a way to be materialistic and get more gifts and money from family and friends.

So in the dream, we’re sitting and discussing, and we’re going over family lists, friend lists, and Chris’s side. My mom suddenly breaks down and starts crying, and when I ask her what’s wrong, she says that Ed isn’t on this list, and that Ed won’t be coming to the wedding no matter what, but he should be on the list and he should be coming. I immediately feel awful and get a sick feeling in my throat, and then I start crying, too.

Then I wake up, and I am moaning and crying without realizing I have woken up.

I knew this was going to be difficult for me — going through this big process and stage in my life without my brother’s presence. In reality, Ed probably would not have been involved much at all in the wedding planning. He might have given his two cents here and there on things like location, venue, or even wedding favors, but the most exciting thing for him would have been the wedding day. But this is my reality now — an earthly world without him. Every small and big step I take in my life from the point of his death onward will be without him, his annoying comments, his little smiles and pats of affection. This is my reality now.

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