Dear Uncle Ronnie,
I remember the time when I still lived in Chicago and I was still with you.
It feels like so long ago, but I know It really wasn't. I remember always seeing you at Grandma's house, and just knowing that you were there, always comforted me.
I remember this one time when I had a crush on this one boy in elementary school and we saw him on our way home one day. You and my dad took that as an opportunity to go up to that boy and embarrass me. I remember being so mad at the both of you for doing that and being so scared to go to show my face at school the next day.
I realize now that you were protecting me and you showed how much you cared about me.
However, there will be no more days of embarrassing me, days of seeing you at Grandma's house, or days of even calling you my Uncle Ronnie.
There will be no more days because you're gone.
It's crazy because when we're alive, we don't think about how we we'll go. we just live. But if i'm being honest, I never in a million years would've thought that I'd lose you to cancer.
When I first found out, I cried. I remember my mom sitting me down on my bed and breaking the news to me. At first I was in shock and I couldn't believe it, but then reality finally struck me and I realized that It was true.
I promised that I'd go to see you, I promised that I would.
But I never did.
And I feel like that's going to be the one thing in life that haunts me forever. Not being able to see you one last time before you left this earth.
When I found out you died, It felt so surreal. My dad called me, I think, and said. "Your Uncle.. he passed."
When I heard those words, It hit me hard. I hung the phone up and went downstairs to the living room and I cried. I cried so long and so much that I didn't even know I was crying. I even did something that I hadn't done in a while.
I got on my knees and I prayed.
I prayed for you, to make sure you were safe and to let you know that I still loved you, where ever you were.
I was dreading the day of the funeral.
We flew back to Chicago, the place I hate so much. When we got to grandma's house, the first thing I did was hug her. Grandma had been taking this the hardest, she was just so sad.
And my father, my father was some where in another planet. He wasn't coping with this the right way, and you could tell by the choices he was making. When I was around him, It felt as If I was the parent and he were the kid.
Everyone was out of it.
It was finally time of the funeral. I wore a black pants suit with black heels, just like Grandma did. She looked so pretty, but so broken at the same time.
My father drove me to the church, the car was silent.
Walking up to the church, I saw a long car pull up and my dad pulled me close and said in my ear, "There goes your Uncle."
The place was filled with so many people.
And when you finally came, sleeping in your casket with the men carrying you to the front, my heart dropped. I walked down the aisle, with my dad by my side, and I saw you.
But it wasn't really you.
It was a shell of what someone use to be. The cancer had made you so thin, and so small. I didn't even recognize the man I've called my uncle for so many years in front of me.
When I saw you, I cried. I cried all throughout the service, in fact. I sat between my brother Ralph, and my father. Ralph was taking it hard, seeing as you and him were basically best friends. He was crying and was silent, and my father had his head down and was weeping to himself, too. This is the first time I've seen my father truly broken. I grabbed my brothers hand and my fathers and held them through the ceremony. They both squeezed my hands, and in that moment, we had each other. We were all hurt, all crying, all beyond damaged, but at least we had each other.
When the repast came, I felt awkward. So many people, just staring at me. It was weird, because half of these people who were my family I didn't even know, but they were looking like they knew me. You could see the judgement in their eyes, and I just wanted to go. Ralph was in the corner by himself, he wasn't ok. I went over and talked with him, and he said, "I had to get away. I know all these people are looking at me, half of the people here Uncle Ronnie didn't even like. I just want to go."
I felt the same way.
When It was over, I stayed glued to Grandma's side. She needed someone. She was crying so much and just kept saying "My baby's gone, he's gone, he's gone."
I don't know why, but hearing her say that tore at my heart.
She loves you so much Uncle Ronnie. She loves you so much.
The thing that made me most mad, was all the people that came to her house afterwards. People were in her backyard drinking, coming in and out her house smelling like drugs. They were playing loud music and you could see how hurt that made my Grandma. She said that they're acting like this is a celebration when we should all be together and praying.
I wanted to leave, and you could tell that the other people sensed that by their constant stares at me. I felt out of place, but I didn't want to leave my Grandma. I hated seeing her hurt, and I feel like I'm the only one who really noticed she wasn't feeling It.
I was so happy when It was time to go. I had to leave, those people in that house made the environment toxic. I couldn't bare it. The only thing is, I wish I could've got more time with my Grandma. Grandma is like my mom, so seeing her so frail just made me want to breakdown myself.
On our way from her house, I sat in the backseat of the car. It was silent and awkward due to how standoffish I was acting. When we got to our hotel, I ended up getting in a fight with my sister over something petty. I was already mad, and she was just fueling my fire. We exchanged some words, and I remember stuffing my clothes angrily in my luggage and crying myself to sleep when I got in bed.
That was the worst weekend ever.
I'm glad It's over though. This was the first time in my life that someone who I knew and loved so much had passed away.
I hated the fact that I had to finally accept the fact that you were gone. Can you believe it? That we won't see each other anymore?
Yeah, I can't either.
But I want you to know that I miss you so much. I just wish I could've saw you one last time so I could've told you all this stuff in person instead of writing it.
I hope that where ever you are, you're ok. I hope that you're in good hands right now and only the best is happening to you.
I hope that you remember me.
And even If I can no longer see you in your room, drinking a beer while dancing to your favorite song, you'll always be in my heart.
I love you Uncle Ronnie. I'll always love you,

I miss you,
Your niece