She Always Knew

She always knew how to do things. I got engaged and my family threw me a bridal shower. She took me aside and away from the judging eyes of our grandmother, gave me a tasteful piece of lingerie. To this day, it's the only lingerie I've received as a gift. She always knew.

I had a baby, she sent flowers from the best florist in town. How did she know it was the best florist when she lived 300 miles away? I didn't question it. She always knew.

She was a hair stylist, and from the ages of 15 to 25, she was the only one who touched my hair. It was only after I moved to another state that I allowed someone else to cut and style my auburn locks.  In those days when I sat in her chair, I marveled at her insight into people, politics and family dynamics. I hope she knew, she was the sage in our family.

Our grandfather died. She collected money from all the cousins and ordered a funeral spray. It was stunning. The ribbon across the giant bouquet read "Beloved Honey" (that's what we called him). It was a perfect tribute to our grandfather. She always knew how to do things.

She was in her 44th year, soon to turn 45. I received a shocking phone call. Michelle was in the hospital, her condition grave. She had collapsed at home and likely had had a heart attack. My family members nearby were rushing to be with her.

She taught us the importance of Dia de los Muertos in the years leading up to her death. She started coming up to Northern California to participate in our local community event. The year before she died she painted her brother and nephew's faces in the traditional skull and marched alongside them carrying candles. The next year she would be gone. 

Last year was the first Dia de los Muertos without Michelle. Our larger cousin clan gathered, painted our faces and marched for her, like she always knew we would.

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