Mija

There was a woman who looked just like you that came into the bakery today.

If she’d been a bit more magical, she just might have been.

She wore a red coat I swore I saw you in yesterday, almost two years ago.

But the buttons weren’t as brown as yours. They didn’t have that wax melted warmth, and the holes they wrapped themselves in were all worn out and tired.

You never looked tired. At least not the way I remember you.

I remember you taking a floating board and teaching my baby sister how to surf in chlorine. I remember the pride you took in painting a sunflower next to your sister, the way you put your plate together and watched us all eat right after.

I remember the way your hair looked wet, and how when it was almost dry I could see your curls at their best. The shape shifting capabilities of your eyes in conversation, the way you never waited for your joke to be over before you let yourself laugh.

I remember your laugh. Louder than jet engines and sweeter than sugar.

But she wore a coat just like yours, the woman at the counter. And she had an accent almost like yours too.

She called me mija.

She said it like she knew I needed it.

She said it like she was you.

And for a second I stopped, and I let myself feel it, and I thanked her silently for letting you speak to me.

Even if it was just one word.

She ordered a soup, she added a sandwhich, and she even got something sweet.

A candy cookie.

Something I never saw you eat but always thought you might like.

I wrap one for you when I close, I eat it on the way home and when I write under my desk lamp. I break it piece by piece and on Saturdays, when we’re allowed to pick and take what we’d like, I grab one for the rest of us too.

My mom, my dad and my siblings. I’m sure they don’t know why I do it, or what it means to me.

But they eat them, and they thank me, and every once in a while I fight the urge to cry.

I’ve never known grief like this.

But I hope I’m never without it again.

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