He died before my children were born and I tell them about him sometimes, when I tell our family's stories -- uncle and godfather, raw-boned and visionary, alcoholic son and failed father, in the end a weak reed no one leaned upon, who struggled with his gloom and self-loathing and was caught in a trap he laid for himself in the teeth of the wind. He would listen to me in moments of clarity, drawing a breath as if waiting to speak then letting it out in a sigh and waiting for me to talk myself out. He would nod when I said that life is not something that was waiting for us around the corner but was here and now, and then would ask me for money for a bottle of sweet wine, too tired and shaky to invent another lie. It was not for his thirst, he would say, but because with it everything grew remote and the stars in the sky began to swim and the horizon expanded again. Once he said he thought we gave birth to our death, like something lifting inside us, like the tunnel where he thrashed and choked and could not breathe because there was no light. That's how they found him early one morning as the sun touched the edges of his room: the artery in his liver spilling his life out into something scarlet and black, his nose burrowed between the thighs of the woman he lived with like a small lost dog looking for the place he'd come from and where he wanted to return. I think of him like that but do not tell my children the details of his final story: lying in the dark in a pool of his own blood, not knowing what was rolling over him as a veil of grayness covered his eyes, perhaps dreaming one last time of the daughter he had abandoned or the grandchildren he would never see or the angels that would come to him with the wine in the dead of night.