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  • This is what I know:

    Sixteen years ago I spoke with my maternal grandparents for the last time. Twelve years ago we exchanged our final letters. In February, one day after Valentine's Day, my grandfather shot my grandmother in the head and then shot himself. They were sitting in their car at the time, in front of their home.

    The police report says that my grandfather died with his foot on the accelerator. The car blistered a crater into the driveway. It took eight days to identify the bodies. The identification was made using dental records because there wasn't much else. They left behind two cats - Spike and Red. There was no funeral, no memorial service. They had been married for more than fifty years. I was not surprised at the way they died. My grandfather was a violent man; his legacy hangs over my life even still. My grandmother devoted her life to her husband; out of love, out of fear, out of some compulsion I don't understand? I had a choice; I chose my mother. I do not regret it. I do not miss them. Knowing this does not ease the shock of being so close to something so brutal.

    Now that they are gone, my family has grown. My mother has a brother again; I have an uncle, and an aunt, and two younger cousins. We have missed years of each others lives. Time will tell if our version of family will extend beyond blood.

    The fire burned off the blood they spilled.
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