That night I
baked Zucchini bread from her recipe, four small loaves, and lit a green candle
in the top of one.

“Are we
having a party because she died?” my six year old son asks.

lighting a candle to honor her life,” I said.

“Oh,” he
adds, “that’s what I meant.”

Isaiah, at
three, wants to know if I am still friends with her even though she’s

“Yes,” I
tell him, “she’s still my friend.”

Levi, also three, is
confused about exactly who has died and where she is now and how she’ll get
back to us.  He asked me the day before as
we lay in the grass under the canopy of blue, “How does things die, Mommy?” 

I told him
about hearts and lungs and strokes.

He understands
that dead things stop moving and that’s enough to know for now. 

My daughter
suggests that the person most closely related to my grandma should get the
first slice of bread.

“That’s me,”
I said.

She smiles, “I
thought so.”

grandmother never put chocolate chips in her zucchini bread like I do, but she
often added nuts.  At the bottom of the
shakily written recipe she wrote, “may add nuts or raisins.” 

I smiled
when I read this, she knew how I hate nuts and raisins in baked goods.  I
wished I could pick up the phone and call her, tease her a little about how No
One In Their Right Mind puts nuts or raisins in their bread or cookies.  It’s hard for me still to believe she’s not
there to answer, that the envelope with three recipes that came in the mail
weeks ago is the last I’ll ever receive from her.

soon maybe, I’ll write about how I lived next door to her when I was
little.  I was her strawberry girl and
she blew cool breezes down the back of my dress during long, hot, Sunday
morning services and lifted the sweaty hair off of my neck with her always cool

For now,
though, we made the bread, we lit a candle and prayed.

The next morning I wrapped two loaves in saran wrap and tin foil, labeled them with a permanent
marker, and put them in the freezer, just like she always did.

“Us saving
them for winter time?” Levi asks. 

“Yes,” I
say, “for winter.”    

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