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Part I: Was it a father’s love?

My parents divorced when I was three years old. My mother, in her blunt manner, informed me that I no longer had a father. With that simple declaration, she sent me to live with my Aunt Jimmie and Uncle Henry. The abrupt transition was bewildering for a young child, but Uncle Henry stepped into the void my father left behind.
I remember the day I timidly asked Uncle Henry if he would be my father. His warm, reassuring smile and his firm “yes” set the foundation for our relationship. From that moment, he became the surrogate father I so desperately needed. We went fishing on weekends, often rising before dawn to catch the best fish. Those trips to the beach where we built sandcastles and let the waves lap at our feet are some of my most cherished memories. The love between us was palpable, and I felt secure in his presence.

Uncle Henry’s consistent love and attention filled my early years with joy. But that idyllic life shattered one evening when I was eleven. I went to bed as usual, and Henry kissed me on the forehead, telling me he loved me. I had no inkling that it would be the last time I would feel the warmth of his affection.
The next night, Uncle Henry went out to the woods with a pistol. He pointed the pistol at his head and pulled the trigger, but it misfired. . Later in life, I truly believed that this was a sign from God, a divine intervention telling him to stop. But the darkness that clouded his mind was too overpowering. He reloaded the pistol and pulled the trigger again, this time successfully. He bled to death in his car, alone in the woods.

The news of his death was a devastating blow. The shock of losing the man who had been my father figure was beyond belief. It felt as though the ground had been ripped from beneath me, leaving me to fall into an abyss of despair and confusion. Uncle Henry’s suicide changed my life in ways I could not have comprehended at that tender age. The trauma cast a long shadow over my childhood, affecting every aspect of my life for years to come.
Next will come Part II –The Aftermath of Suicide

This is an introduction to Dennis Dunham’s Memoir to be released in 2024—Appropriated titled “Misfire.”

Dr. Dunham is now focusing his life on the prevention of suicide and the recovery of the loved ones of suicide victims.

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