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Friends for Life, but Only for Life (1 Viewer)


Senior Member
The first time I remember feeling the sting of someone just vanishing from my life was at age seven, when my uncle Charlie lived in the Maine house with us for the summer. He was in bed all day most days, and we weren’t allowed to go in and see him, except I think I remember once or twice, but it was a blur, he was a blur. I used to ask my mom if he was sick and she’d tell me he was just really, really sad and needed his big sister to take care of him. Pretty straightforward, but I was confused. He’d always been the funny uncle, the one who’d drive backwards down the hill of the Maine house’s driveway, steering with his knees. When he’d call from his apartment in Rhode Island he’d always say “This is John Jones! I’m on the roof!” and my sisters and I would run out and look for him, even for a while when we were too old to believe him. I wonder if I was mad at him for being so sad he couldn’t have fun with us.

A few days before we had to pack up and drive back down to Massachusetts for school, Uncle Charlie got out of bed. I’d just finished my breakfast or lunch, and was spinning around and around in the top-like kitchen chair from my dad’s house in the fifties. Uncle Charlie entered the kitchen, clean-shaven, standing tall, not looking anything like how I’d pictured him in bed all summer: I remember thinking his hair would be longer, but it fell in short brown curls around his forehead; he would be crying when he got up, I’d thought, but his eyes were bright and he grinned that special Uncle Charlie grin.

He picked me up out of the swivel chair and spun me around before hugging me close to his happy heart. Was it happy, I wonder now, or were his smile and brightness just a façade? He carried me out to the deck and sat down next to me on the picnic table, both of us facing the house. I watched the windchimes sway so slightly that they made no sound.

Did he put his arm around me? Did he hold my hand or pat my head? Was his body angled toward me or did he face straight ahead? I can’t conjure up the physical memory of the conversation, and I don’t remember what I said; his words found my subconscious memory immediately, though, and I can reproduce them word for word to this day:

“You are a very special person to me. You know I love you, and your sisters, and all your cousins. But of all of those people, you are my favorite. Now, don’t tell them that, because it would hurt their feelings, but I want you to know I will always be a good friend to you, I will always be there for you, and that I see a lot of myself in you. But this is our secret, right?”

That day, my mother drove him to the airport in Bangor and he flew to California to stay with my grandmother. I didn’t see him for four years. How could he lie to me like that? I wondered. How could my favorite uncle tell me I was his favorite niece and that he would always be a good friend to me and then leave my life? I didn’t understand, as I do now, that people can still be good friends even when they haven’t seen each other in years. I thought about what he told me almost every day, and each time felt a twinge of abandonment.

This past Christmas Eve, fifteen years after he told me he’d always be there for me, Uncle Charlie jumped off a ten-story building. We were at the Maine house when we got the call. I couldn’t bring myself to cry. He promised he’d be a good friend to me, I thought. Good friends don’t kill themselves.


Senior Member
This piece was written in a simple style but I liked it. It was descriptive of your feelings but you didn't use a snobbery lexis you sometimes find here for simple stories. Perhaps the fourth paragraph had one too many rhetorical questions, and I would like to have known what happened when you saw your uncle again after four years apart.

All in all this was a wonderful piece that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. :pharoh:

P.S. I know its hard to forgive someone for letting you down like that, but maybe he was just in too much pain for too many years that he simply couldn't go on. Maybe he was sincere when he said you were his favorite. But ofcourse you can't wear a happy smile forever...


Senior Member
Ditto - well written, simple (but thats what i like), many writer are too extravagant in their language and merely alienate the readers.

keep it up :)