It happened again. This time with Ray. Second Uncle to die. Second Uncle to kill himself. Gordie first. Now Ray. I knew it was about him when my mom called me. I knew what she was going to say. And I knew how he had done it. A loner who hanged himself. Didn’t come to pick up his mail for days on end. He was a spy in Germany. Climbed over the wall in the dark wearing black from head to toe. Started in the air force. Only had one love. Linda Miller in Missouri. He bought me perfume once. And when we were in Rome he put me up in my very own hotel room. He was the closest thing to a rich Uncle I ever had. He was Ray. The cranky bastard. Lovable, tender, shy, scared of people. Things I wish I could write to him now. That pa finished his book. That I want to study in Italy with Brett. That things were going to be okay. But he died. Brett says don’t feel guilty. You had no control over this. Brett played chess with him. He was supposed to come to Seattle for Halloween, but I went to NYC instead. We left him a message on his birthday. A message with all our voices chiming in. Happy Birthday. We love you Uncle Ray.

Pa came home after identifying his older brother and took off all his clothes. He arrived with no bag, I think he was on meth. He grabbed a plastic garbage bag and shoved all his clothes inside. “Where is your bag pa?” No answer. Just a slammed door in my face. Ma says, “he’s not doing well. Not sad, just says I smell bad.” We all went to bed and I dreamed Meghan put me on the phone with a retard, unable to understand that I had to wake up at two a.m. and didn’t want to swap suicide stories. God Ray, look what a mess you’ve made. I knew dad was alive because he kept rattling pill bottles from the medicine chest. Then later it was his snore that kept me believing he was alive. But what if he isn’t.

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