The questions that break my heart.

"Fua, it says they haven't found his body yet. Do you think there is a chance that he is still alive?"

My nephew was sitting on our couch looking at the iPad. The cheers of FIFA 17 blurred into the background as my attention focused on him and his question. I suddenly found myself sitting in a school assembly during early high school many, many years ago. A fishing boat had disappeared in stormy waters, and Eli had been on it.

I didn't know Eli well -- he was one or two years above me. But during the period of his disappearance and search, I stayed up many nights thinking about him, hoping that he was alive, surviving somewhere on a deserted island like one of the novels we were made for English. I remember the feeling of worrying about someone who I sort of knew. I remember the feeling of hoping with all my heart that the "presumed dead" was premature.

They never found Eli's body.

I considered my nephew's question about his friend.

"Usually..." I started slowly. "When it's a case like this... the news isn't good unfortunately."

We looked at each other momentarily, knowing and understanding the truth. The following day, after they found the body, his friend's Facebook page lit up with hundreds of condolence messages that my nephew stayed up reading all night.

He wasn't alone with his thoughts.

* * *

I'm in a fancy apartment hotel in Melbourne with floor to ceiling glass doors that overlook the city from a height. My uncle is in a coma in a hospital, tubes all over his face and his liver failing. He has been in an unresponsive coma for days. The doctors had proclaimed that the chances were very, very small.

There is a dull silence in the apartment, the kind only sorrow can bring, where you hear your heart slowly thumping behind your chest and a faint ringing in your ears.

"Beta do you think that there is a chance that he can come out of this coma?" My mum asks the question like a small child desperately searching for hope.

"I don't know." I reply, staring out between the concrete buildings of the city. "I guess we will have to wait and see what happens."

My uncle did wake from that coma, with a renewed vitality for life. He tried his best to beat his disease with the new time he had been given.

It was the next coma he couldn't survive.

* * *

It was Christmas and we were sitting close to the television in my childhood home. An animated movie had just been released in which Santa was going to visit the Pacific Islands.

"Is Santa really going to come to Fiji this year, fua?" My nephew asked earnestly, his eyes full of hope and innocent excitement as the preview for the movie came on.

I smiled and said nothing.

After years of hanging up socks on the burglar bars and finding them empty the next morning, I didn't have the heart to tell him that Santa didn't visit all the children in little countries like ours.

* * *

These are the sorts of questions that break my heart.

previous - next; thanks, diaryland.