He gets two pieces of writing today.
For my Creative Non-Fiction class, we had to write a short memoir. It could be on a moment, or a place, or a thing. A time in your life, an aspect of your life,
or for me,
a person in your life.
I chose Frankie.
My uncle passed away six years ago.
He was the most goofy, obnoxious, handsome, ridiculously kind-hearted and most genuine person I ever had the pleasure of knowing.
But I didn’t know that then.
It only took me about six years to realize this.
I have written my share of touchy things that I had to muster the courage to write about.
Heartbreak. Fear. The color of my skin.
But this, to date, is the hardest thing I have ever had to write in my life.
This is the hardest thing I have ever had to think about.
Reflecting on something meaningful (or not meaningful) is one thing.
But putting it on paper in front of you conjures up demons you didn’t even know were there.
Or should I say, demons you knew were there, but have been hiding from.
My uncle was one of the best people I know,
but I didn’t know this until now.
Or should I say—
I couldn’t face it until now.
I was probably the meanest little girl Frankie had ever met. He loved me and my family so much, and I was annoyed with him for that. Everyone loved him. My friends, my family, everyone he came across.
But I was just always angry with him.
For no reason.
And he knew it.
He would make me and my brothers kites and carved us pumpkins and would joke with me and tease me and try to make me laugh because he knew how I felt, and he knew that underneath it all I loved him just as dearly as he loved us.
But I was 12,
and I couldn’t let him be right.
So I was mean.
And then one day,
he never came home,
and I couldn’t apologize to him.
I could never take back what I had said and done.
I cried for weeks. But I didn’t know why.
Everyone was mourning their loss of him, and I thought I was too,
but I was 12,
and I was mourning the loss of a person, the loss of a person I didn’t get the chance to know better because I wouldn’t allow myself know him better, and the loss of time that I would never get to apologize.
And at 19,
I realize that now.
Everything I never knew I was feeling was bottled up for six years.
Year by year, it’s drained slowly,
but it has surely poured out on to the page tonight.
I am eternally grateful for having to have known Frank Perez.
He was a great friend, an amazing brother, a lovely son,
and the best uncle I could have ever asked for.
But I wasted my time trying to be right.
I was 12, and I forgive myself.
So I will take that—and not move on— but move forward.
This is my lesson today.
He taught me to love unconditionally, and deeply.
Do not take people in your life for granted.
Don’t go to bed angry.
Don’t leave the house angry.
Do not always try to be right.
Have some fun.
Loosen up, seriously.
Live a little, won’t you?
Life is short,
but surely sweet.
He knew this.
He was smiling and laughing every day.
And I miss him.
I forgive myself, because I know Frankie forgives me.
He would laugh at me now.
Oh my gosh, he would.
He would laugh, and tell me,
“You are ridiculous, girl.”
“Wipe your tears. Live.”
So I will.
Thank you for being in my life.
Then, and now.
Except you’re just a little higher above me, my guardian angel in the sky.