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In March, my phone rang and it was my brother. Given how often we call each other (we don’t really, unless it’s a holiday or birthday), I knew something had happened. Sure enough, my uncle (my mother’s brother) was gravely ill and entering hospice. He had a degenerative disorder eating away at his body, and the doctors were baffled. They’d never seen anything like it before, apparently. Three months later, the phone rang again, and he was gone.

It was very sad to lose him. He was a nice man, who never did anything but be kind to me. He stayed out of the conflict between me and his family as I disentangled myself from its toxicity. He’d actually stood up to my drunken mother on several occasions, and I really admired that about him. He raised two perfectly spoilt brat children however, who no doubt are counting the minutes before they can descend upon whatever assets he’s left them.

My mother, I would learn through my brother, was in a bad way. But not in the “my baby brother is dying and it’s just so awful” but the “how can God do this to me!” kind of way. My mother is a grief tourist, and this was like her Disney World. I did inquire about her though, seeing if this may have changed her ways, but no, sadly, not at all.

When people die, you get a chance to think about the impact they had on your life and what it will feel like in their absence. I am sad my uncle passed. He was a kind, decent man, who never wronged me (to my knowledge) and if he had a negative thing to say about me, he never did it to my face or to anyone who would repeat it back to me. In our family, sometimes that’s all you can hope for.

The news has me wondering what the fall out will be now, as my mother attempts to make a grab at what she feels is owed to her. (In her mind, she’s always owed something.) She may want to be in touch with me, which isn’t going to happen. She may alienate herself from my Aunt (wife of my deceased Uncle and her only friend), by making demands on his estate of some kind or another.

It’s moments like these when I’m glad I’m No Contact with that side of the family. The bitterness and underhandedness always left a nasty taste in my mouth. I’m sad that I won’t be able to attend the service honoring my Uncle, but there’s no one in that room I want to see among the living. I’m sad for their loss, but I’m not sacrificing my own mental health for some dog and pony show.