It's been 6 years since my Uncle Frank died and I remember that night like it was yesterday.
It was a cold, rainy night. My parents were up north, Leslie was house-sitting out in Newport, and Jay and I were relaxing and watching TV. I was suffering from some sinus issues so I took some Benedryl and I was half asleep on the couch when the phone rang. It was my Uncle Jim. He said he hadn't heard from Uncle Frank in a while and he was wondering if I knew where he was. I told him I had no idea, but if he wanted me to, I'd drive by his house to see if he was home. He told me absolutely not, that Frank would be mad if he knew we were checking up on him. We both laughed, agreed, and hung up.
About a half hour later, the phone rang again. It was the bartender and family friend from the K of C. She told me that some lady just called the K of C hysterical, and he was looking for my dad. She had no other details. I thanked her for telling me and hung up.
Deep down, I just knew. My hands were trembling and I was in the kitchen when I tried calling my Uncle Jim back to tell him. The phone rang and rang. I believe he was on the other line. He finally answered and all he said was "Frank's dead, I have to go."
The phone line went dead and I fell to the ground. Jay came into the kitchen and I was hysterical. I kept saying "I have to go home, I just have to go home. I need to tell my parents and my sister." I called Leslie's cell phone and she almost didn't answer. When she did, I choked out the awful news and we cried together. I told her I was going to mom and dad's to find the number to the campground.
When I got there, the house was empty. I was looking through their phone books, looking for a phone number. When I was searching, their phone rang and the caller ID said it was my Grandma. My first thought was that she already knew Frank was dead and she was looking for my dad. Since he obviously wasn't home, I figured I better answer and I'd do whatever she needed me to do. I answered the phone crying and she asked me what was wrong. My God, she didn't know. I had to tell her that her son was dead. Once I told her, she dropped the phone and started screaming. She never did pick the phone back up.
I finally go ahold of the security at the campground and they told my parents, who called me.
Once this was all over, my sister and I met at a coney island to talk. I think we mostly sat in silence, though. Once I got home, my phone kept ringing and ringing. It was all different family members calling to see what happened. I was exhausted physically and mentally, and I just wanted my mom and dad to come home.
It was, by far, the most tragic night of my entire life and I will likely never forget all those details.
It's been 6 years and a lot of the time it feels like yesterday.
Rest peacefully, Uncle Frank. I wish you could have met Ethan and Allison.