A Chance For Good-Bye This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By
   I remember the day my uncle committed suicide. Bits and pieces of my parents' conversation filtered through the dove gray walls and down the rose-tinted carpeted hallway to where my brother Michael and I were sitting in our living room.

With one of the overstuffed pillows tucked under my arm, I looked at the older of my two younger brothers and his big sky-blue eyes searched my face for reassurance. When he couldn't find any, he stubbornly turned around and crossed his arms. I wanted to tell him that everything was okay, but I couldn't. All I could do was shift my eyes toward my parents' bedroom door. My youngest brother didn't understand that anything was wrong and played Nintendo. The annoying synthetic music was making it even harder to catch the snips of conversation floating down the hallway. It seemed like hours until they finally came out of the bedroom to talk to us. I knew it was bad when I saw my father. His eyes were red-rimmed from crying - but instead of looking sad or angry, he just looked lost. His eyes were blank, empty, defeated. Thinking back, I think that seeing my father's expression was the scariest part.

When I arrived home from school that day I was so excited! It was September 11, 1991 and I was finally fifteen-and-a-half. My dad was going to take me driving in the parking lot. Six months until my sixteenth birthday didn't seem like such a long time. I was animatedly explaining all of this to my mother. I think I amused her because she just smiled and looked at me as if I were crazy.

She was trying rather unsuccessfully not to laugh, and a giggle had finally escaped as she answered the phone. She exchanged pleasantries, the usual hi and how are you, but then something changed, her face sobered and her voice dropped as she swiftly exited the room. I kept my brothers out of the living room where she went to discuss the news that Michael and I would later anxiously await. The conversation wasn't very long, and she hung up the phone. She was very subdued and wouldn't tell me what had happened.

My parents took my brothers and me into the kitchen and sat us down. I remember nothing and everything about those next moments. I remember intently studying the flowered wallpaper. The flowers were all done in bright primary colors, red, yellow and blue, with green leaves. The once-white background had yellowed from my mother's smoking. I noticed this as she lit another one of her long white cigarettes with the characteristic pastel rings. I don't remember exactly what was said, but I do remember feeling guilty for forcing my parents to tell my brothers. I'll never forget the words my father uttered: "Your Uncle Rick has had an accident." Those were the scariest and most bewildering words I have ever heard in my life. They were oozing with fraudulence and screaming for recognition. My father sat there as calmly as he could while I asked question after question, desperately searching for an answer, anything to avoid what was so evident to me. Finally the inevitable. Instead of asking him, I told everyone. "Uncle Rick killed himself; he committed suicide."

I felt so many completely different emotions in those moments. Confusion and anger were among the top contenders, as if it were some sort of sick contest. I couldn't erase the phrase that my father had so pitifully uttered from my mind, and the question, "Why?" kept reverberating through my jumbled thoughts. I still wonder why, even though I know more now than I did then. I wanted to remember my uncle as the man he was, not the image he cemented in my mind the day he took his life. I didn't, I couldn't attend his funeral. I was afraid to. I keep hearing that the suicide statistics climb every year, but this wasn't a statistic - this was my uncle. I often wonder if I had gone to the funeral, if I would have been able to say good-bye to the nightmare of his death and say hello to the memories of his life. fl








This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback