((I decided to post all of the letters I wrote to my relatives who died over the past seven or so years. I always write a letter to them; even if it takes me a few years to do it. Like my Great-grandpa Clayt who died in 1998, I didn't write his letter until last year. The letters help me cop with the pain I think. This letter was written last year so everything in it is what I wrote then. It is more coherent then the one I wrote to Jessica.))

November 7, 2002

Dear Grandpa Clayt,

You died in August 1998, just over four years ago. But I still remember the day as clear as though it were yesterday. I remember the last day I saw you alive and the last thing I said to you and you to me. I was only eleven years old then and not even a freshman in high school. Now I'm a sophomore in high school.

You know maybe it is better that you died when you did. Not because of you are dead; that hurt us all extremely. But because you did not have to see our family break apart around us. You did not have to see my father divorce my mother while my mother went and married my step-father (I wish she hadn't). You did not have to see Uncle Dan and Aunt Jill get a divorce either.

The night that you died I was staying at Kristen's house. I was sleeping on the floor when Aunt Jill shook me awake; there were tears in her eyes. I was a little afraid then and I grabbed the first thing I could find; a small little alien figure, silver holding a tennis racket. She sat us down on the couch; Kristen, Danny, and me. Then Uncle Dan supported her while she told us that Grandpa Clayt was in the hospital up in Cheboygan. She said you were dying and that you had a brain aneurysm.

I simply sat there and nodded dumbly; hearing what she was staying but not wanting to hear it. It registered but not fully. I was still a little sleepy. But when I saw my mother it registered and I cried the entire way from St. Louis to Shields. I did not even sit in my seat; I sat in the place between the two front sets crying on my mom's knee.

When we got to Grandma Joan's I sat at the kitchen table along with Aunt Jill and Kristen. Everyone else went into the living room I think. Wait, Grandma Joan was out with us too. Then the phone rang and I sat up straight. "Uh-huh," Grandma Joan said. Then that false smile she had flashed and my heart skipped a beat. "Yeah," she said. "Okay I'll tell them. Thank you for calling us." She hung up the phone and Aunt Jill and Kristen collapsed into each other; crying.

Then I sat there; my eyes wet but no tears coming. My throat burned but I could not cry. I didn't cry until I saw you in your coffin. Then I sobbed in a corner and Erin came to hold me. It hurt, your death hurt Grandpa. And it still hurts now.

The reason I'm writing this is to get rid of a bit of the pain that I've carried around for over four years. I plan on shredding this letter and then standing on top of the huge hill at deer camp and letting it scatter around the place. I hunt now Grandpa! I was the first girl at deer camp just like I always said I would be! I use your hunting jacket and everything. I have my own gun of course and it fires great. Kid is going to be hunting next year.

Whenever anyone mentions a brain aneurysm I break down. I can't help it, I just do. All of my friends at school know that I have a problem with it and a lot of the teachers know now too.

Erin graduated now, she's off to college and studying to become an English teacher. Who would have thought that she'd be a teacher? But I think that she'll make a great one.

Aunt Jill had another kid, a little boy. He was born on October 15, 2000. He is a charming and cute little boy with brown hair and dark brown eyes. He is good-natured and so much fun! You'd love him grandpa, everyone does. She also got re-married to Brandon's father, Mike Betz, in 2002. During the ceremony I had to watch Brandon and chase after him two or three times. He wanted to run off into the neighbors yard during the ceremony. Grandpa Dick helped me out there of course.

I'm crying for you again Grandpa. The tears are there and I wish they were going to go away but they will not. They keep coming and I can only hope that letting this letter go will help some of the pain in my heart. Maybe then I won't weep like a wounded child when I hear the words brain aneurysm.

I'll still miss you of course Grandpa. I'll always miss and remember you. Oh yeah, another thing. I play the flute in band now. I'm first chair and everything. Isn't that so cool? Kristen plays clarinet in her band. Another thing; me and Kid attend a charter school while Kristen is still in a public school. Kid and Kristen will both be freshman next year and I'll be a junior. Only two years left and I'll be graduating! Jessica, you know her from the reunions, she's the same age as Kid and Kristen, no wait, she's older and will also be a freshman next year.

I don't really have much more to say Grandpa. Except this: Good-bye, I love you, I'll always remember you, and we all miss you.

~Katie

((That was written last year after my science teacher had spoke about brain aneurysms. Needless to say I got a little wound up and spent the rest of the day writing that. The original is scattered to the four winds somewhere around deer camp.))