Today is your 19th birthday. Yesterday, I stood in line at the paint counter and was so struck by the young man mixing up the paint. He reminded me of you, at your most awkward self. And as he made conversation with me, I found myself stuttering and answering in sentences that didn’t make any sense at all. What I wanted most was to ask him where he was from and who his people were. But I didn’t. Because I felt like I didn’t have the right. And I didn’t want to burden him with the sentence “There’s something about you that really reminds me of my son.”

I ate two pieces of pizza for lunch today, in your honor. They weren’t very good. I am experiencing that repeatedly this week. Things that once meant something don’t really seem to anymore. I don’t mean memories of you. I do mean things like plain cheese pizza from a particular store.

What would you be like now? Would you be hip and happening? Or would you still be slightly awkward and goofy? How tall would you have grown? Would you be a decent bicycle rider or would you be better off on foot? Would you still have that sudden laugh that always sounds like you were being surpised? That’s how I knew that something had really gotten to you, the laugh that came out of nowhere and the one that always made you look around like “Where did that come from?”

What would you be doing? You might have been working fulltime or going to school. We used to talk about your choices and which ones were you going to make. Either way, the rule was clear – work or school, no sitting around the house. What music would you have been making? And dance, you loved to dance.

We love you, Raven. Still. Always.


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