The Way Things Are






My mom called this morning
2005-03-28, 10:21 a.m.

My mom called this sister-in-law's brother Fred (obviously not his real name) was found dead this morning. This is my brother's wife's brother. We are pretty close to this family, and in fact, I had seen Fred more recently than I had seen my own brother or SIL. We had something very strong in common - our sibling's only sibling (well, okay, bro and I have 2 half-siblings), blood-related aunt or uncle to my niece and nephew.

His parents had been trying to get in touch with him for over a week (they live in San Antonio, and Fred lived in Dallas), and finally this morning had the police break down his door. He had been dead for some time. My brother told my mom that he is going to have to be identified, and there will most likely be an autopsy.

Coincidentally, today is my nephew's 4th b-day. And my bro and SIL have to sit my niece and nephew down and tell them their much-loved Uncle Fred is dead.

He was around 30, single, gay, living and working in Dallas in the film industry, and was an absolutely effervescent personality. An awesome guy.

I pray that the cause of his death is not a drug overdose, suicide or murder. I pray it was something natural and unavoidable, because on top of his death, I do not want his parents dealing with anger or guilt or whatever. I can’t imagine being in his sister’s or parents’ place right now, but I keep going there and feeling just the tiniest edge of the nightmare they must be going through right now.

Back in December, a few days before Christmas, I needed to get Christmas presents to my niece and nephew. I talked to my brother, found that they would all be in San Antonio for Christmas, and that in fact, my niece and nephew were already there, while bro and SIL stayed at home in Houston to attend a swanky office Christmas affair. Lil Guy and I were on our way to take LG to his dad’s, where he would stay til the 28th. Looking back at my calendar, it was December 21st. It was a little bit of a bittersweet time for me; taking my kid to be somewhere else for Christmas, but that’s life for us right now. We arranged our schedules so that we stopped at my SIL’s parents’ house on our way, so Lil Guy could see his little cousins, and we could drop the gifts off.

My SIL’s mom and brother Fred were there with the kids. We looked at the gingerbread houses the kids had made (niece and nephew kept picking the icing and candy off their houses, and their grandmom kept imploring them not to do that – the “icing” was really glue, and they were slowly destroying their creations like a couple of biped termites). The kids had also decorated…cookies? Something with paint. Oh, I know, a Christmas ornament, tree ornament. Something painted. Niece’s was all nice and neat little girl looking with appropriate Christmas symbolism, and Nephew’s was the kind of abstract that can only come from a three-year-old boy’s brain. I remember Fred really admired his nephew’s creation, because it really was a beautiful piece of art, kind of like the beautiful art that a monkey would create. That stopover, seeing my niece and nephew, and their sweet grandmom and bubbly Uncle Fred were a very bright spot in that day and gave me something to smile about.

Christmas of 2003, I made my niece a dressing table from an old chair. You know how when you are very small, a chair turned backwards is a perfect little table? I fixed up a chair with a fresh coat of paint, a skirt, a pretty waterproof cloth seat, and a mirror, and we gave that to her for Christmas. I remember when we took it over to SIL’s house, their whole family was there, including Fred. I was a little disappointed in the mirror I had used – I told my SIL that it wasn’t what I had envisioned. It was a small rectangular gilt-framed mirror, and I had wanted something larger. I told her that if she found something that she thought would look better, to replace it by all means. Fred told me he thought it was perfect. He seemed quite taken by the chair/table. After he said that, I realized that it was perfect. He had that way.

Fred was a beautiful guy, inside and out. I know his aunts and uncles, his cousins, his parents, his grandmother, and of course his sister. I have become close to this family because they are my brother’s extended family. They live 20 minutes away from me, so when they visit, I try to make it a point to drop by and visit a bit.

I don’t know enough about his personal life to be able to venture a guess about what happened to him. Time will tell. I hope it is not something that will heap more pain on top of a family that has already experienced the ultimate loss – the loss of a child.

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