Dear John (aka Uncle Zed),
I’ve been thinking about writing to you for days. How I’d tell you that ten years without you has been a long, long time and no time at all. When you died, I wanted to hurt about it forever. Even though it was unbearable, hurting meant that I remembered you clearly and I didn’t want those memories to dim. I wanted you to be always fresh in my mind. Well, they have dimmed and the pain isn’t as sharp, but it’s still there. And I still miss you as much as I did ten years ago.
Since you died, I’ve never cried at another funeral. I’ve attended too many the past few years, for toddlers and babies, and young men who didn’t want to live anymore, and someone I was very close to. It bothers me that I can’t cry, but I think maybe I didn’t have any tears left after you. How maudlin this sounds. I’m sure you’re rolling your eyes. Actually, you’re probably hanging out with Elmore Leonard and you’re both rolling your eyes.
I worried that the kids would forget about you. Well, the younger three, anyway. They were so young. But today, Dan wrote a post about you on Facebook. It’s bittersweet to know you haven’t been forgotten but aren’t here to see them grow-up, and hang out with us, and make us laugh, and annoy us when you’re late, and let the kids do things they’re not allowed to, and tell me about the books you’ve read. By the way, I finally read Get Shorty. We’ll talk about it one day. Maybe we’ll ask Elmore to join us.
From Dan’s Facebook-
Ten years ago today, I woke up early at my grandparents house. Seemed like a normal morning. Then I saw my mom. We talked for a few minutes, and then she told me that my uncle, who had left the night before for work (he had the night shift), got in an accident and died. At first I didn’t believe her, but she told me to look outside and see if the van was there. (For some reason, I can’t remember why, he took our van to work that night.) And it wasn’t in the driveway. (It had been snowing, and he slipped at a red light, and a truck hit him. Luckily, the truck driver survived the crash.) Everyone in the house just cried that day. We cried for days. Some of us cried for weeks, or even months.
It changed a lot of things. It turned me sour. He was my godfather, and my best friend. I was only 7 when he died and I still miss him like hell. I can’t imagine what his siblings felt, or what they feel. I always pray for him though, and for all of the people that knew him. As much as it hurts, knowing that I can’t see him for what feels like a very long time, I know I’ll see him again eventually. And the most important thing is that he’s happy now. Much happier than he could ever be here. And me and him still talk. I can remember him now and not get upset. I actually enjoy remembering some of the things we did, like staying up later than anyone else so he would let me play rated M videogames with him.
No matter how long goes by, twenty years, thirty years, forty years, I’ll still remember him. When he died, it messed me up. But talking to him now helps so much. I’m always gonna miss seeing him, but I’m never gonna miss talking to him. I can’t wait till I can do both at once.
Uncle Zed, It’s been ten years. I can’t wait to see you again.