Behind My Uncle’s Schizophrenia

Thoughts on Niemand

TIME

My 69-year-old uncle Henry gazed into the jaws of the Natural History Museum’s biggest celebrity, Thomas the T. Rex, who was frozen in a silent roar.

I asked Henry, “How do you define danger?”

Henry answered, “Everything.”

I made a mental note. Later, I added the entry to the unique dictionary Henry and I are creating together. We call it a “thicktionary.” It documents the language of his mental illness. Other entries include Chicano, which means Americano, and alligator, which means you want to make friends with them but they have their own defensive mechanisms.

Henry, my oldest paternal uncle, has lived a life that’s constantly taken him in and out of danger – a life that has made me consider about what danger really means.

Even in my earliest memories of Henry, I feared the words that might come out of his mouth.

“Real estate on the moon,” he…

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