My uncle died when I was 14 and in the 8th grade. He came out of prison after serving a 9-year sentence and he only had a year to live because he had heart problems. He had a son when he was let out and he basically died and left his kid on his own. When it happened I was I living with my grandparents, he and my aunt, and my siblings. One morning my grandma just screamed that he was dead. He was just laying there on the ground, but I was too scared. I didn't wanna see it. So I left through the front door and went to school.

The year he came out we were really close. We would always talk about things; things I didn't talk about with anyone else. He always gave me tips because he went to juvy when he was young. So he would tell me not to hang out with the wrong people and not to do drugs and stuff like he'd done. He told me to go to school and get a good career and provide for my family. He was a good moral person, but back then he didn't have the guidance we have now. So he fell down the wrong path. But he always worshiped his family over everything else.

One morning my grandma just screamed that he was dead.

I don't think his death has impacted my schoolwork. I always just stay focused and block those things out. It didn't affect how I interacted with people, either, because I don't want to show them that I'm weak. I don't like talking about my problems. So when I'm at school, I just try to have fun for the day. When I'm out of school I can think about things. I think about what I could have done or what I could have said. I think about how when I would come home, he'd be in the back playing with his kid. Now I don't see that anymore. That's when it really hit me. Now it's just his son sleeping or playing around without his father. So when I come home I always play with his kid. Sometimes he doesn't hang out with people or follow them, but he'll always follow me...sometimes more than his mother!

Some people like expressing things in art or writing it down. Others hold it within them. But if it’s gonna kill you inside, you should tell somebody because you might do something stupid like think about suicide or hurting other people. Write it down. Go to a psychiatrist. Or just go to a best friend and talk about it.

I didn't feel like I needed to talk to anybody about it because his death wasn't like a murder or anything - it was just natural. I think if he would have eaten healthier in prison, he wouldn't have had heart problems. He would eat like ramen noodles and stuff like that. All that sodium. All that extra stuff. It caught up to him after nine years. Maybe that's why I'm tryna get my grades up so I can go to LSU and become a dietitian. He didn't know. To him it was just food. I can be the person that lets other people know what's bad for them.

Now at 15, I don't think it affects me too much anymore. But I do think about it when I look at or hang out with his son. I'll always be there for him because he doesn't have that father figure. So I'll be his brother figure - someone he can turn to.