So, my father had a best friend, his name is Chuck (a nickname from his last name Ciekoweiz) Chuck was the closest thing I had to an effective uncle, I have real uncles, 3 in fact but they were nonfactors in my life. Chuck was there though... chuck was always there. I caught my 1st turtle with him, he taught me how to fish for trout, he taught me to love breakfast diners and camping and cats and all sorts of things...Chuck was the only other male in my life who was like a father figure. Chuck is dead. Chuck was killed by his doctors... they paralyzed him during a surgery and a month later he was dead. I saw him once or twice during this time. Way less then I should have, way less then he deserved...

 

I found out a few weeks back that Chuck was dead. He died in the hospital and no one thought it was a good idea to tell me. I found out from my brothers status update on facebook. I was broken hearted. Never had I felt so out of the loop of my family, out of the loop of life... Chuck, I had just seen him months ago, I took him fishing and while he was in bad shape and couldnt go far we were there, I was with him and I was just for the 1st time in forever, from a long absence of knowledge making an effort to reconnect with someone who helped forge me into me...

 

Chuck is dead and no one told me...

 

how could I be so hated? so despised? I didnt know of a funeral, of a wake... I deserved to know, I loved him, I loved him so much! And they didn't tell me, and to find out on facebook? The salt in my wound, how can I let it go? I accept that my family is broken, its always been and the only thing that has changed since I was young has been my perception, sharper and sharper with time to see the lies, the bullshit, to see how broken we all truly are...

 

and yet, this betrayal, this confusion...

 

I pushed it down. Deep inside, I always do... its my natural state.

 

Then one night at Bradfords in Stamford, my girlfriends work was having a happy hour party, I was obliged to go, ok fine. So I go...

A few drinks, another drink maudlin Billy appears, walls down, emotions on high octave. Cynthia, my girlfriends twin asks to use my Iphone, sure. Why not?

 

So I am showing her iOS5 the developers copy I have it installed, she says lets look at your photo roll, ok why not? We flip through the pictures, one by one, laughing, she sticks her finger into my side as if to tease me. "look at that one you look so stupid!" I laugh with her, she is happy, so I am happy... she flips to a picture of Chuck and I, I am 6 or 7, he is behind me, his handlebar moustache on prominent display, I am wearing my camo army hat, I am holding a large bluefish, this was the day Chuck and my father took me on thte My Joy, a charter fishing boat in the long Island sound, my smile was pure, I was so proud of the days catch. Chuck is smiling his half smile, his long hair covering most of his eyes, his strong hands made of steel hold the weight of the fish. 

 

Something is dripping on the Iphone screen... I notice I am crying... uncontrollably...

 

Cynthia looks at me in tortured bewilderment.

 

"Billy are you ok?"

 

I cant speak my throat is choked with feelings and maybe phlegm.

 

I look at her from the corner of my blurry vision, her face is frozen in astonished and yet sour amusement.

 

I cant speak, I try, I say something but it comes out in vowels and mumbles, I point towards the mens room, and drunken I stumble from my seat, dropping my phone onto the table, leave these accursed feelings here I think if for a moment in a sea of moments.

 

I pull myself up on the bar/dining room divider and I fumble, a mess, a fumble mess of tears and anguish towards the restroom, Chuck is dead! hes DEAD! Forever gone, my connection is cut and I feel it, I feel it inside me its missing and every nerve, every fiber in my being that knew of him is screaming in agony. My uncle is dead! No more will he wile me with jokes, with 3 stooges reruns, with stories of Raymond E. Filmore while he jiggles his thick coke bottle glasses in hilarious mockery... every day I've known him forever altered in my memory, turtles, fishing poles, locusts, trout, abstract ideas I associate with Chuck flood me. I am in the handicap stall crying into my hands now. Nothing is going to spare me these feelings, nothing is going to take this away... and I wouldn't want it to... Chuck deserves my tears... I missed it all and the anger I feel for those who have let me down and kept me misinformed failed me, Chuck is dead! He is fucking dead! A flash of memory... Nelson Family Camping ground, going to breakfast, Chuck is singing werewolves in London, I can never listen to this song again with a straight face I know this without experiencing it... Chuck it dead! How can I bear this? How can I take this? I cant take this, its too much, my stoicism, my fragile wall of protection from feeling... broken in an instant. I cant hold it in, and now tears, snot, salt from my hands on the work day mix into a miserable concoction of pain, I hear someone knocking..."busy"... more knocking "BUSY ITS FUCKING BUSY! LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE YOU MOTHERFUCKING COCKSUCKER!" ANger replacing despair... I will fight this, I want to fight, I will hurt somebody, somebody will hurt as bad as I hurt... another sob... more knocking. "GOD FUCKING DAMNIT!" I pull toilet tissue and wipe my face clean... I feel better I let this out it was hurting me. I go to the sink and I wash my face. I know it is dark outside, no one can see me, but Cynthia would have told Sandra by now... time to lock it back inside, time to make them think its time to go home. I stick to the plan and leave the bathroom. I give the asshole knocker the look of death, and I think for a second he wants to say something but reads the fury in my eyes and looks away, we pass by and I brush my shoulder off him, through him, he knows not to press my buttons and he doesnt. I feel lethal. I sit down and collect my phone, Cynthia is gone. I finish my Stoli-O and soda... I pray someone fucks with me, because I want to smash this glass in someones face. After some time Sandra collects me and brings me home. I fall asleep without incident. This time. It is getting harder to hold things in, I feel as though this mask is going to slip... this buttoned lip stoicism is not faring me well... I know no other way.

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Comment by ernie garcia on December 5, 2011 at 4:38pm

I'm sorry that your friend died.  I don't think it helps you in the least to keep your feelings pent up behind some facade.  If you're pissed off, be pissed off.  You need to figure out what is pissing you off.  It makes no sense to go off on somebody who has nothing to do with this.

If you're upset because he is gone, that's understandable.  Short of blaming his doctors, there is no one to blame for his actual death.  If you're upset for not being informed of his death by your family, that is also a valid feeling.  If you decide to voice this feeling of betrayal to them, I don't think you will accomplish much beyond alienating yourself further.  Either they do not understand the bond you have with Chuck, or they do not care. One is ignorance, and the other intentional.  Are you sure they willfully kept this from you out of spite?

The people that you do choose to spend your time with, your friends, are the ones you need to vent your frustrations.  And by that I mean express your frustration like you have here, not take your rage out upon them. I have some 20 cousins on both sides of my family, and I only speak to one of them on a regular basis.  Family is not necessarily the people we treasure. 

Don't let your anger destroy your memories of Chuck.  Whatever animosity you feel towards your family for not telling you does not in any way diminish the times you spent with him. Experience is all we have, and it's not worth your grief to dwell on people who disregard you.

As for keeping it all in, my personal experience is that it does not help.  I would be more worried if you felt nothing about a loved one's passing than if you felt the need to cry.  You are no less for doing so.

 

Comment by Steff on December 5, 2011 at 5:27pm
I am really sorry for your loss.
You are a lucky person to have had the privilege of such a deep and wonderful friendship. I am pretty sure your uncle wouldn't want you to behave like an arse that picks fights in bars for no reason. Go fishing instead to honour him. This will help you calm your nerves as well.

There is a saying I like: My memory is a window, through which I can see you whenever I want.
Comment by Ed on December 6, 2011 at 12:00am

Your sense of loss is understandable. It is difficult to rid yourself of the anger but talking to a trusted friend is a good way to vent what your feeling. Also if your lost buddy is buried somewhere nearby you might also consider a visit to his grave site. Healing takes time. Be patient.

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