We arrive more or less in black,
Hats on sunny days,
Umbrellas in the rain.
This part is always the same: We smile and cry and embrace,
Genuinely happy to see each other.
We knew today would come,
She was nearly 90.
But not tragic.
We miss her already,
Especially her laughter.
She was thoughtful,
A gift to her many students.
She was a loving wife and mother,
Turned a blind eye to her children’s glitches,
Like most moms I know.
My son serves as a pallbearer,
A role his father would have fulfilled,
If he had lived so long.
The young man would stand shoulder to shoulder
With his dad,
Maybe even taller now.
The abuelas whisper to each other
for all to hear,
“Those eyes! He looks like his father.”
The tias smile
With tears sparkling.
They glance at each other knowingly.
The boy doesn’t remember the tias and abuelas,
who have been there for him,
Since before he was born.
They attend bridal showers and weddings,
Baby showers and baptisms and birthdays and bar mitzvahs.
His own father’s funeral.
He was too little to be a pallbearer then.
The tias and abuelas fretted and fawned.
They hoped and prayed.
They were there.
They always are.
They share joy and laughter and pour champagne,
They bear sorrow and grief
and prepare the condolence meal.
They lift spirits and hold hearts with steady hands.
They show up
donning Chanel and pearls,
or jeans and tennies.
Love takes many shapes.
Even if he does not.
On those very dark days,
When Life disappoints
And it is hard to believe,
May he yet have faith in the aunties.
May he feel God’s bewildering love for him,
In the kiss prints of so many tias and abuelas
All over his cheeks.