Wednesday, February 8, 2012


My uncle Sean died on my birthday. I was oblivious to that fact until the next morning. My mom sent me an e-mail to announce his death. I never received it. She mentioned it the next morning over the phone while I was sitting in front of a Starbucks in Normal heights. I was waiting for Scott, the film writer at the Reader to show up. We were meeting to discuss a story collaboration. I was crying when he walked up. I don't like to cry publically. It makes me feel weak. It was humiliating. He handed me some napkins and said I looked like a raccoon because I had black smears of mascara under my eyes. He was trying to make me laugh. I did, a little.

Sean was in his 60s. He had been sick for a long time. Sean was my dad's older brother. I have been told that as a baby I would crawl into his lap and follow him around everywhere he went. He had a sharp wit and would laugh often. During my gawky adolescent years he lived with us. He would stick up for me when I came home with awful report cards or got in trouble at school.

In the last few years I have had dreams of my dad and Sean together. About a year ago I dreamt that the two of them were sitting together on a bench. Sean was wrapped in a blanket and my dad was studying x-ray images belonging to Sean. I'd like to believe that the dreams mean something. Maybe the two of them are together. I don't know if I believe that people hang out leisurely after death. I have always found that sentiment extremely naive. I remember someone, an aunt or an uncle, telling me after my dad died: "How nice it must be for your father to be with his parents." The thought enraged me. I'm not sure why.

I was able to write Sean a letter a few days before he died. My biggest regret with my dad was that I didn't tell him things I should've before he died. I tried to do that with Sean. I sent an e-mail to my aunt in Ireland, in which she printed up to bring to Sean in the hospital. She said he kept it where he could see it before he died. I am thankful for that.

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