2018-06-21 20:27:04 ET

it's been a minute but i needed somewhere to write my thoughts.
i don't even know why i'm thinking about someone i don't actually "know." i only know of him.

my great uncle ray died in 1966, when he was 22, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. my family is catholic so we never, EVER, talk about it. it's taboo. and undoubtedly painful for my grandma and her youngest sister, two of the three currently living people who actually remember him as a living, breathing man, to talk about. but i have been curious about him since i was a child.

the only picture i've ever seen of him is his military service photo. he had my great grandpa's elephant ears. so does my uncle, whose middle name is raymond. ray is buried beneath a modest headstone in the cemetery in the town where i grew up. he shot himself in his bedroom at his parents' house. i remember being in that room several times as a child. i would stealthily scan the old wooden floors for traces of blood stains. there were none.

i'd like to know what he was like. was he funny? was he athletic? could he cook, or was he better at eating? how tall was he? did he like music? what kind? his obituary described him as a farmhand - did he aspire to be more?

i had to find a transcript of his obit online. he died on may 23. another thing i never knew, but will certainly never forget now that i do.

wherever you are, ray, if you are anywhere at all, know that you will always be alive in my mind.

2018-06-25 06:59:31 ET

living with the pain of having to deny your brother existed sounds more like hell to me than anything else. it's good that you are willing to explore your thoughts and feelings. too bad that wound will not be allowed to heal.

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