Cowboy Hats, Tacos and Silver Vests…

Two nights ago I was riding an inspiration high having spent the evening with a dear friend at a great talk. I was inspired, feeling loved and just beginning to allow myself to sink into the warm embrace of the holiday season. Shortly after returning home, I received a phone call from my cousin that her mother had passed away.

Boom.

I spent the next hour talking with my cousin, plotting out to inform the other sisters and most importantly my Grandmother. We decided that she would tell my Grandmother the next morning in person and I would handle telephoning the rest of the family. I don’t think I have ever done anything as hard as when I had to call my Mother to inform her that her sister was dead.

Dead.

The word leaves a bad taste in my mouth. As much as we use it in our vernacular to describe things & places, using it to describe a person’s state, lack of being, non-existence is nauseating. Hearing my Mother’s cry on the phone broke my heart. The scenario was repeated with each call I made and my chest felt heavier and heavier until I couldn’t breathe. My hands were sweaty. My head hurt and I was getting my facts confused on the last call. I was drained – physically and emotionally.

As I laid my head down to get some sleep, my mind wandered. It edited different memories of my Aunt together into this weird collage – a mental hodge-podge of different moments. The time she gave me a “rose” sweater (aka pink) much to my Grandma’s chagrin. When she cut off her relaxed locks and opted to go natural, again much to my Grandma’s disdain. And my trip to visit her in California, in particular Los Angeles for the birth of my cousin. My Grandmother pulled me out of school and we took a bus from Ohio to Los Angeles (Grammy doesn’t fly). My Aunt lived just below Runyon Canyon in a two-story apartment building. She took my to Mann’s Chinese Theater and I had my first true taco from a food truck. I got a cowboy hat and her boyfriend gave me a silver vest that was one size too big but I wore every day for the rest of the trip. It was magical to this little boy and it changed me forever.

My Aunt is why I decided to move from home when I was 18 for college. She was the reason why I loved California so much and eventually decided to make it home. She was brave, outspoken and kind. She knew I was “different” and helped me nurture that early on.

My Aunt is gone, but her memory lives in everything I do today.

I love her. I miss her.

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