For Uncle Rick(1961-2006)

The computer screen reflected a bright glow across my face as I smiled while chatting with my cousin online. It had been a long day, and I was enjoying carrying on a conversation with her and my sister, who, ironically, was sitting one room away. We'd cleaned her room this morning, which was the reason we hadn't gone to the hospital with my parents, at least I think it was. The phone call had come quite early in the morning, but it wasn't the first time. My uncle had, had to return to the hospital abruptly numerous times throughout his short battle with cancer, but he was young and had always been extraordinarily healthy, so I never really believed that the disease could beat him.

Anyhow, my older sister's boyfriend had stopped a short while ago to drop something off, and my parents had called to let us know they would be home shortly. Dad had sounded a bit upset, but that wasn't surprising considering his brother was in the hospital. I saw headlights flash across the wall in front of me and realized my parents were home. I didn't bother to sign off or anything I just told my cousin 'brb'.

As soon as they came in I could tell something was wrong, I figured the doctors' must've decided Uncle Rick's cancerous was worsening. They asked both me and Erika to come into the living room. Both of them were clearly shaken up. I don't remember which one told us, but one of them told us he was dead.

Shock hit me hard, it was as if someone had knocked all the air out of my lungs, and tears immediately began to fall. My dad wrapped his arms around me and I sobbed against his shoulder. Across the room I could hear mom and my sister's sobs mingling together into one haunting melody.

At some point I broke away and stumbled to the computer, the conversation with my cousin was still up. I struggled to type. Tears blurred my vision so that I could barely see. "My uncle's dead" I sent. Her sympathy and immediate response was an instant salve to my breaking heart, but of course it could not wash away the immense grief that had befallen us.

My mind raced with unanswered questions, but one stood above all, "Why?!?" The one I asked aloud though was, "what happened?"

Earlier in the day the doctor's had said he was stable. He'd even managed to read the get well card from us, but in the early afternoon he began to have trouble breathing. His young wife of only a few years remained steadfast in her belief that he would live until the end. My aunt, coming from Florida to see her oldest brother one last time, got lost on the way to the hospital and arrived too late to see him alive. His parents remained close as his time drew near, but none of us were expecting, or prepared, when he was taken away. His absence left a gaping hole in a somewhat dysfunctional, but loving family. We are lost without him.

Hard to write, but I don't want to forget.