Driving back from my best friend’s house this morning, I had an Elton John CD playing. The song ‘Daniel’ came on, and it made me a bit sad. I don’t write about my brother often, but he really was a great person and I do miss him. He was my ally whilst we were still underground. He was three years older than me, and I never had to take the caretaker role with him. We helped each other.
His life took such a different course than the cult had planned. Being the only son of my father, he was being trained to take that high leadership role. One of the trainers got a bit too rough in the process, though, and my brother suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him unable to function. After that, my father took him to the US. He learnt again how to walk, how to use utensils, and how to function much like other children his age. He was 10 at the time of the injury.
As children, we tried to protect each other. One would hide the other, taking physical punishment in place of the other. We devised our own little games to keep occupied so that our minds had at least some sense of fun in the midst of that hell. We were quite close, and we both felt that the other was all we had. Our father was at the head of my brother’s training, of course, and our mother really wasn’t allowed to act as parent to us at that time. We stuck together, though, and got through as best we could.
My brother died in a car accident in April of 2001, three months before his 23rd birthday. He had become a liability for the cult, and they cut his brakes. I often wonder what he remembered about the cult as he grew up. I know he was aware of them and that he understood one of our father’s ‘coworkers’ had been involved in his ‘accident.’ I know he was curious as to why he couldn’t visit our sister and me. I’m sure he really couldn’t comprehend the whole story. He was an all around nice person with a sweet spirit and a genuine concern for others. The injury left him with mild mental retardation. However, he finished high school, got a job, and was planning to move out on his own.
So today, driving down the road with the wind blowing strongly in my face, I thought about my brother with both sadness and a smile. The old pain of his loss pricked me a bit, which is unusual. Out of all the people I’ve lost, I’ve never truly felt that my brother was gone from me. I’ve always felt like he’s still an ally. Just walking beside me in a way I can’t quite interact with directly.
I’m sure we could have worked well together and made such a formidable team. We always did, somehow. And I’ve always been aware that, even though he couldn’t express what happened to him, he always understood cult training better than I did. He was, afterall, marked for the role I ended up taking.
I miss my brother dearly. We were the greatest of allies in the absolute worst of times, and if he can see me now, I hope he’s proud of the work I’ve done in getting away from the cult. It’s work we were meant to do together.
Daniel my brother, you are older than me.
Do you still feel the pain of the scars that won’t heal?
Your eyes have died
But you see more than I
Daniel, you’re a star in the face of the sky
Daniel is travelling tonight on a plane.
I can see the red tail lights, heading for Spain
Oh, and I can see Daniel waving goodbye.
God it looks like Daniel,
Must be the clouds in my eyes.