But he didn't die. He will be turning 16 soon, the same age that my sister was when she met her husband. He is smart and caring and accomplished and funny and handsome. He has two younger brothers and a sister that will turn four next year. I love them all to bits. And I've completely missed out on their lives.
To keep my relationship with my sister is easy. It still hurts to be so far away. It always will. But we have an established relationship that can withstand that. My nephews and my niece - they are the ones I missed out on. They are the ones I was supposed to babysit, feed them ice cream and watch scary movies with. And I never did. And I never will.
To leave one's country is living a little death. Yes - everything still stays there. Yes - people still talk to you. Yes - we live in times of emails, Skype, FaceTime and social media. But it doesn't get you there.
All the things you left behind.
Not the things. The things don't matter.
All the memories and laughs and tears and hugs and fights and relationships and jokes and references and wisdom and words and language and scents and scenery and accomplishments and failures and needs and warmth and frustrations and dreams and DNA that will never let you forget. That will never let you stop regretting.
The very guilt of not being there.
The guilt of not being there in need.
The guilt of not being there in joy.
Maybe not every single day. Because there are days when you are just too grateful and too amazed and too thankful and too excited and too happy. Some days you are just too happy. Until it catches up with you.
Until your parent gets sick or your sister struggles or your friend has a baby. Until the one you love dies. And you are thousands of miles away, saying "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry but I am over here."
All the things you have to relearn. All the things you have to accept. All the things you have to embrace. All the changes. All the time.
And all the while, listening to "you are so lucky to be here" and "if you don't like it, just leave. Go home."
But I am home.
It just doesn't always feel the same.
It never will.
It will always be the music to an immigrant song.