I’ve had a lot of family deaths, but there was one that hit me really hard. That was my Uncle Juan’s death. After my dad left, my uncle became the father figure in my life. He didn’t live that far from me, so he was always over making sure I did my homework and had what I needed. I used to be the only kid in my family so he would buy everything and take me everywhere. I remember that he was the kind of person that everybody loved. He was so crazy and loud. I swear he acted like he was five, but still really really smart. For the longest time he had wanted a motorcycle. He wasn’t going to get one, but another of my uncle’s convinced him to. He had had it for a long time already without any accidents. Then one night he came over, slightly drunk. At around 12 A.M. and wanted to see me. When he came to my room I pretended to be asleep, because I didn’t like how he acted when he was drunk. He left after that and was supposed to go home, which would have literally taken 10 seconds to get there, but he turned the other way toward Centerville instead.

Those roads start country, so its pitch black out there. There’s a curve to get onto Rainbow, but his bike hits the curb and his bike flipped. He wasn’t wearing a helmet so when he hit the floor and slid, he fractured his skull. Had he slid a little more he would have fell into the full canal. The guy who lived across the street heard the crash and called the ambulance. He was air lifted to Fresno and went straight into surgery. At about 3 o’clock in the morning our house phone rang. It was my aunt calling to tell us what happened ant to ask if I could go watch the girls. He has 3 girls; all under 8 at the time. So my mom went to drop me off and drive my aunt to the hospital. I stayed the night. I remember going to his favorite chair and just sat there. Crying, wishing, and praying that he would be alright. I had fallen asleep on the chair and a few hours later they came back. A few of my other aunts, my grandparents and my great-grandparents came with them. The house was quiet though. Everybody ate and sat and washed up in silence. The girls got up asking why everybody was there and where their daddy was. Nobody said anything. My aunt started to cry and told them we were going to go and see him soon.

It was that day that made me hate hospitals. Our family filled the entire waiting room so they took s to a little private room where we could all sit and wait for the doctor. A few hours later he finally came. He only spoke to my aunt and my mom, and when they were done they only told the adults the news. One by one they let us in to see him. When it was finally my turn, I was scared. It didn’t look like him at all, so at first I thought I had gotten the wrong room. Then I noticed it was just his mustache. They had shaved it off for the oxygen tubes. I kind of just stood there. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do or say. I told him he was dumb and he had to wake up already, but he just laid there. It was too quiet and weird in there so I didn’t stay in there long. After everybody had gone in to see him, most of us left. The next few days were that same. In and out of the hospital and my aunt’s house. Those few days sucked for me though. I had never gone a day without seeing my uncle. I missed him so much already. My house was so much quieter without him there. So we waited and waited to see when we’d get the call saying he had woken up.

Then on Monday May 15, I woke up and got the news. I remember feeling completely disconnected with everything around me. I didn’t feel like I was in my body anymore, and everything around me went into a blur and silent. I’m not sure how to really explain what I was feeling. I saw my mom’s lips moving, but I didn’t hear anything coming out. My face was hot with the tears that had fallen and my mind was spinning. I went back to my room and covered myself with the blanket and just wept for hours. My worst memory of this was breaking the news to my little cousin. She had thought she was in town for a family party, and I accidently let it slip but quickly corrected myself. Everybody was at my grandpa’s house, sharing stores and talking. My mom and aunt took my cousin to the room and told her. I was outside at the time, but I could hear her screams like she was right next to my ear. I’d never heard a scream so heartbreaking.

Then came the funeral. Everybody knew how close we we’re, even random strangers that I didn’t know, so everybody was staring at me. I sat in the velvet chairs, where everybody hugged me and cried and said how sorry they were. My cousin was on my lap most of the time because she couldn’t stand from crying to hard. I zoned out for a little bit while the priest spoke, but came out of it when they did the 21 shots and the folding of the flag. That’s when the crying was the loudest. By this time my other uncle, the one who had taken him to get the bike, was calling out to take him too. Afterwards I was a mess. I felt sad and mad and alone and just everything all at once. I was raised in a Catholic home and always taught that God was always with you. So after all this, I felt more alone than ever. I thought, “Where is He when we need Him?” That’s the major way I was impacted by this experience; it sparked my conversion from being Catholic to Agnostic. It also taught me not to take advantage of things. That night when he came to see me, I didn’t want to see him because I told myself I’d just see him the next day, but the next day didn’t come. So today I never take life for granted; I know to always jump at every opportunity you get with friends, family, or anything else life throws your way.



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