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11:53 AM

"Tell Lana not to bring her ass into town again and not come by to see me!"

My dad on the left and my uncle on the right

You said those words to my father. I'd never come home and not laid eyes on you. 2015 was the first time for us. You said you were coming to me and I waited, and when you didn't show, I figured I'd just see you the next day. I still had three days left in the town I call home. Where the people who hold my heart stay. I thought we had time. But you didn't show up and I didn't try to find you, I thought you were busy with other family members or maybe you were tired. I didn't want to be the one to disturb your rest. This illness hasn't been easy on you, I wanted you to have peace, if only for a few hours. 

My thought was, I'd always be able to come back and see you. I'm returning this year. I told my mom to tell you that I wanted to see your face in November. You told her you'd be there. Now, I'm not so sure about that. But even if you are there, I have to wonder if you'll look the same. I know you won't, but a girl can hope, can't she? I hope you're around when I get there in November, I hope you smile at me and greet me with that same raspy voice I've known since I was aware of who you were to me. You're my favorite uncle, a title given to you by my dad that I embraced when I realized it was true. 

I don't remember much about our time together when I was younger, but there are pictures to prove that these moments happened. The scent of cigarettes and beer are still present when I think about you. 

There are small flashes of you and me at Nana's house and at grandma's. There are flashes of you standing out front with other family members, and you in the backyard smiling and laughing with your big brother, my dad. But there is one memory I've never been able to shake, you and me, sitting at my grandmother's table talking about your father and my research. Mom took a picture of us together. I can't find that picture. 

You told me all you wanted to know was more about your dad, you wanted to connect to that side of the family. I got that, I get that. And I made a promise to find out more information for you. I haven't forgotten my promise. But will you be around for me to share what I've found, or will I have speak to you at night and tell you what your father has probably already told you when he meets you during your transition? I hope I'm the one who gets to tell you the stories, I hope I get to see you in November, and I hope I get to see your smile one last time, hear your raspy voice as you call out my name and follow it up with a laugh that is weighed down by exhaustion. 

You're my favorite uncle. I claimed you when you first smiled at me.

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