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.
“We’re 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 dead.
“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.”
My 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.
Someday, 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 hands.
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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