Due to Extenuating Circumstances

Adventures in Unplanned Parenthood

Elegy for an Unknown Uncle

After a few posts on infertility, drooling, TV, what have you, the next post was supposed to be funny. It really was funny, too, there’s a good bit where Baby poops on me in terror while Mac looks on helplessly as I’m surrounded by poo-water. I wish that was this entry.

The reality is, that entry would be dishonest. I have pledged nothing to you on this blog if not honesty. The honest, biting, horrible truth is that there is so little humor in the day, the week, this writing because my husband was contacted by police last Wednesday and told that his older brother had died of a drug overdose. Carl lived in Asia and the Middle East teaching ESL, but had been deported. He died in Canada after spending most of his adult life trying to leave it, and whatever was inside himself that followed him around the world.

Mac then had to call his parents. I have not heard anything quite so sad as two parents who are in shock but not surprised. This was the phone call they have thought about for 20 years. Mac and his parents are not a family of three. They will forever be four minus one. But the interest paid over and over on that one comes back in this moment as a certainty and peace they haven’t known since Carl picked up that first dose of heroin. At the end of this long and agonizing wait for Mac’s call there is, at last, security.

I cry for them. I cry for Mac. I cry for myself; Carl was my brother in law and I wanted–needed– to believe one day we could have something approaching a friendship. I’m not naive enough to expect an addict to change his stripes. My hope was that he might see me as the new one. I was the person he hadn’t lied to, stolen from, disappointed. Maybe he could talk to me. He did. Not much, but we emailed. It was something; an open line of communication when others were shut down.

I cry for my son. If there is anything I wanted FOR Carl in this year, it was to know his nephew. When I emailed pictures from the adoption I asked him how it felt to be an uncle. He told me he still hadn’t wrapped his head around his brother having a kid. Being an uncle didn’t occur to him! He had a new place. A new piece in his family. This, above all, is what I wish he might have known:


You never disappointed me

You didn’t need to be here for me to think you were cool

You had the really good dirt on daddy and I know someday I would have wanted that

I would have been able to love you and not your decision making

I wanted to hear the stories about traveling a couple of years before mom thought I was “ready”

Someday I’ll know the truth, the entire truth, about your death

And I’ll still be your family and love you.

Your nephew

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One thought on “Elegy for an Unknown Uncle

  1. Substitute bipolar for heroine use and there is my summer. And that poem from Baby is perfect. It says exactly what I want to say for Jonah and Troy. Thanks.


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