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Your Death Inspired My Dreams
January 20, 2011
Dear Uncle Julio,
I miss those days when we used to spend time together. I remember when you used to take me to school, carrying me on your shoulders and making me laugh. How happy I felt when you used to come to the house and hug me real tight and tell me you loved me so much!
I remember how you called me “Mel.” I had always called you, “uncle.” Even though you were just my aunt’s boyfriend, I loved you like a real family member. I thought you would be there forever...
Why did you have to leave? I miss the love you gave me and your smile. You used to always make me laugh and put a smile on my face.
I remember the day it all happened, when I was six years old. It was toward the end of the summer, the day before your birthday, August 9th. My dad told me that you were coming over, so I went in the front yard to play. I looked up innocently at the bright blue sky and admired the puffy white clouds. The street felt hot under my feet and the birds flew by quietly and quickly, as if they were racing each other. I watched an airplane taking its time in the air.
It looked like the perfect day, but it would soon become the worst day of my life.
Uncle, you were coming over to our house to meet with my dad. My mom told me later that you were taking the short cut to our house through the alley. All of a sudden, a car stopped next to you and the driver asked you in an aggressive way, “Hey, where are you from!”
You replied innocently, “What? I don’t bang.”
You kept walking towards my dad, who was waiting for you outside. That is when the car stopped next to you again. This time, two guys stepped out. They looked like they wanted to beat you up. They approached you.
This is a scene that comes back to me almost every day as I walk down that alley to come home from school.
My dad said that he tried to jump in, yelling, “Hey, one to one!”
He wanted to get in to save you from getting you beat up. He looked at you like his younger brother. He kept shouting, “Fight with me! I have more of a gangster face!”
Yet, they ignored my dad. They were too busy beating you up like crazy, hitting you all over your body, punching your stomach. You backed away, trying to defend yourself, blocking your face as best as you could.
Suddenly, my dad saw that one of them had a gun in his pants. He knew he couldn’t do anything to save you. I thank God that my dad didn’t get killed that day, but I just wish you could have been saved.
Little by little, they cornered you up against a truck and kept pounding you. Soon, you were down on the ground unconscious. They kicked your head and your stomach.
My dad screamed, “Please! That’s enough! Stop!”
Eventually, they got in the car and left. My dad rushed over to see you. Blood covered your face and your body looked like it was falling apart. My dad ran home and got my godfather to help him. They carried you inside the house.
When I saw them, my mom rushed over and covered my face with her hands.
I remember my dad shouted to my mom, “Take Desiree and Melissa next door!”
I wanted to stay. I wanted to see you. I wanted to help you! I was only six years old and I felt powerless. My mother grabbed me and my baby sister and took us to our grandpa’s house next door. She left us with my Uncle Alex. I remember how he sat down with us on my grandpa’s small bed and tried to calm us down, saying, “Everything is going to be all right. It’s okay. Don’t worry.”
I felt extremely confused. I didn’t know what to do. Desiree was only 4 years old and she was crying softly. Back in our house, my mom called the ambulance.
I kept asking myself, “What’s happening to Uncle Julio? Why did I see blood?”
I had lots of questions, but no answers. I felt useless and lost. My thoughts tumbled around in my head until I eventually fell asleep.
Later, when it was getting dark outside, my mom came back. We went back to our apartment and saw my dad and godfather, sitting down silently when their heads pointing towards the floor.
My mom mumbled to us, ”Your uncle is in the hospital...”
She didn’t say it, but a part of me knew that I was losing you. My mind flashed back to happy memories with you. I remembered how you came to my kindergarten class and sang along with me, trying to help me with my A, B, C’s.
Tears poured out of my eyes. I felt empty. The next day was supposed to be your birthday and we had been planning to celebrate with you at our pad. We would have had a blast... but that party never happened.
Instead, we got the news we had all been fearing. The phone rang at 3:00 p.m. My mom picked up. Her eyes filled with tears.
“Your uncle just passed away,” she said softly, hardly able to get the words out. When I heard that, I knew you were never coming back.
Later, the detectives showed my dad pictures of gangsters. They wanted him to point out who the attackers were, but my dad felt worried that if he snitched they would get revenge. He didn’t want anything else bad to happen to our family. They were dangerous people and he knew that they could come back and kill us.
It has been almost 9 years since then. Nine years since I have seen you. I have grown up in those years. I graduated from elementary and middle school. I wish you could have been there to see me. Now, I am 14 years old. My friends would tell you that I am a good person. I am caring, responsible, and respectful. I am doing good in school and I am proud to say that I have all A’s and B’s. I wish you could see me now, Uncle Julio. I wish we could talk and spend time together!
It’s crazy how life is. I’ll never forget you. I love you! It was hard for me to smile after you died, but I know that you would not want to see me sad forever. You would want me to have a good life. You would want to see me smiling and laughing, growing up to be a successful and happy person.
You always told me that if I wanted to be someone in life, I had to try hard to reach my goals. I am doing what you told me to do. I know that I will graduate from high school and go to college. I dream of being a lawyer, so that I can help innocent people who are victims of injustice. You wanted all of my dreams to come true, and I promise you that I will work hard to make you proud. You will always be in my heart, Uncle Julio.