For the first time in a long while, it’s sunny outside. No rain. Today is a clear, crisp mid-winter day with deep blue skies. Dry pavement, warmed by sun.

You hurry on your way, dodging people and gapping sidewalk cracks as you huff up a busy pedestrian street.

When you reach your destination (the post office), you continue dodging people inside the dim building. Sliding quickly across the grayish once-white tiles, you fumble with the keys to open your PO Box. You bend down and begin to awkwardly pull out a catalog and what looks like two cards. The big card is from your mother’s friend, who still sends you holiday cards for every major and not-so-major holiday. You have no doubt in your mind that she sent you a Valentine’s Day card, and you feel a twang of guilt for not sending her one.

After sliding the catalog this way and that, you finally retrieve your mail, though the second card falls to the ground face-down. You pick it up and turn it over. The brightly colored Christmas stamp is the first thing you see. Your eyes sweep across the card, stopping at the recipient name and address neatly printed in blue handwriting. That blue handwriting is yours. It was a card addressed to your Great-Aunt Barbara—the one you call “Aunt Barbara”, even though she was your mother’s “Aunt Barbara”. Angled over the blue ink characters of her last name are the neatly printed letters that read “DECEASED”.

You pick apart each of those letters, confused. Confused at the letters. Confused at how your own relative is dead and you didn’t know.


  1. Oops. Forgot to edit this and publish it after I first wrote it.