My uncle Barry was always a character. He was always making jokes and laughing really loud. He'd tell stories about the old days and make jokes that I was growing too fast. He used to give me these big kisses that tickled until I used to shy away from him because at the time the kisses were "annoying". The last time I had seen him was many years ago, so long that I couldn't remember.

One night my parents confronted me in the kitchen and said that he was in hospital and that my dad was going to visit him since he was from my dad's side of the family. At the time, I don't think I really understood how sick he was and my mind had this way of thinking that said "He'll get better. People always recover. He'll be out of there before you know it." I imagined him in his hospital bed, cracking jokes whenever people came to visit him and enjoying all the attention he was getting from the nurses. I didn't think I needed to visit him, mainly because he lived so far away and the hospital was a distance and also because I had school and was busy with my homework and assignments.

I came home from school one afternoon. As I was raiding the cupboards in the kitchen for food, my mum and dad informed me that he had "passed away" (as they put it). I think I shrugged and walked out of the kitchen. It didn't have a huge impact on me at the time and I didn't cry. Part of me was probably trying to be brave and just accepting it as it is.

The day of his funeral came around, I dressed in my only black dress which had a band of sequins around the waist. On the way to the funeral and getting to the place, I was pretty composed. I think I was also so confident that I wasn't going to cry that much that I didn't bring any tissues in with me.

To begin the ceremony, a video was played celebrating his life, showing pictures of him and family to the song 'Hero'. I was quite moved by it all but also a bit saddened that I wasn't in any of the photos that came up on the screen. After that, it was time for my cousin Cathy to read a poem she had written for him. She began the speech quite well but when the meaning of her words hit her, she couldn't physically continue because she was sobbing so much. Almost like clockwork, something clicked inside me too. I think it was finally realising that he was gone, that he had left the earth, set me off. The tears started flowing so quickly that I couldn't stop them. I tried to make quiet the loud sobs that were now coming out of my mouth. Trying to regain myself at that moment was like trying to collect water with a sieve. My grandma sitting next to me, wrapped her arm around me and gave me a tissue to wipe the fountains that were spilling out of my eyes. I sobbed into her arm, probably making it wet but she didn't seem to mind.

The next part made the tears worse.

Two of his grandchildren probably aged about 5 and 3 went up to the coffin and put two little toy cars on it. My uncle had loved collecting model cars and the two little boys put two of his favourite models on his coffin.

It really hit me deeply that these boys were not crying, the reason to this I thought was because they didn't really understand the concept of death because they were too young. It also hurt me that I had neglected to go and catch up with my uncle, in all the time I had up until his death. These two little boys didn't have as many years as I did to possibly spend time with my uncle but they used all the time they had to be with him.

At the wake, my auntie showed the light side of the situation. Because everyone in the room had not seen each other for ages, she believed barry had brought us all here to be together but the only thing missing was him. "Bloody Bazza!" she laughed and I laughed too because it seemed so true.

After the funeral and for weeks after, the main feeling I felt was guilt. It clung to me and reminded me of what I never got to do with my uncle before his time ran out. There was the guilt that I should've visited him when he was on his deathbed and I should've spent more time with him. The main guilt was that in those last times that I did see him, I avoided his kisses which were basically a show of his affection for me as his niece. I felt so bad that I had rejected his love and kindness and it was too late to do anything about it because he was gone.