To the man I should have known to become my uncle, You were the butterfly who sent a hurricane, except it wasn't just a flutter of your wings that ripped through what should have been my stable and permanent home. It was a shotgun and an emptied six pack along with the crippling depression held inside of your soul and a lonely bottle of pills anxious to feel your lips. None of us will ever truly know why you did it. and I won't even know what had truly happened until I found my mother crying on the kitchen floor when I was thirteen years of age. You see the death of you, became the internal death of your brother. Now I will always see you in the blank gazes in public places or the way their mouths may smile but their eyes hardly will. My parents, are now like puzzles, with missing pieces and gaping holes, and I will never be able to fully put them back together. My mother was painting the pantry yellow at ten o'clock in the evening, her children asleep in their rooms, her husband waiting in their bed. To be loved, to be safe. As my mother smeared the walls with the color we represented as "happiness" the phone began to ring. She remained where she was letting it whisper it's tune like an unthreatening jukebox. It stops. It rings again. It speaks it's cry for help once again, she lets it go on like an unkept promise. It stops. It goes on again. Yelling it's need for her attention like she should have given it sooner. She answers. The word emergency had never smeared across my house until that night. I was six years old with a heart that beat like an unsteady drum set and a smile that looked like i had gotten in a fist fight with early adolescence because of my many, missing teeth. Little did i know your heart had grown silent and your smile had been stolen from the back pocket of your consciousness. They took my four year old sister and I to my grandparent house, the place that's permanent aroma would always be of chocolate chip cookies and my grandmother's perfume. They went to the airport, flew across the country and I can not imagine the stifling silence gaping between their fingers as they held hands on the way there. Clinging to each other as if they were the only things they had left to keep them from the horrors of the world around them. Because that's what families do, protect each other after all. They arrived at your house the next morning. They spoke to the police and then to your wife who they found drowning in an ocean of something that should have been your love. How could you let the one you love find you so broken. Little did you know she was carrying your child. Someone she had to explain to when they grow up that her father clawed through his mind to find an answer to life he could not easily find on his own. To say he had an affair with a shotgun kissing the back of his temple. You had a daughter after all. You had a daughter who will never know you; and she is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. The last time I saw her she was wearing a yellow sundress, the color of "happiness". She had her brown curls dancing in the sun and her laugh could make the flowers stop dancing in the wind for a second just to listen to her. She is one half her mother, one half you, and both sides are as strong as the heat of the desert. If only you had noticed this because she is of course, part you. -Madison Wellman
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