Every time I attempt to cook something (although this hardly counts as cooking—just a bunch of veggies and tofu stir-fried in sesame oil), I think of my Lola Maring. Even now, all grown up, I can taste her expertly browned, salty-sour pork tapa and her version of pinakbet. I can still taste them, even if it has been 17 years since she passed away. I remember that day and what I was wearing; I remember that I had just come home from school, that Mom was pregnant with my sister; I remember not really understanding what cancer was and why it took people; I remember how my brother let me bawl into his shoulder and assured me that she was going to heaven, because she was a good person. I remember how it was when she was healthy, too: breakfast time at our old house, the cramped kitchen she must have loved with all her heart; I remember above all the strength and care in which she nourished her family.
Often I wonder what our relationship would have been like had she been around a whole lot longer. She would have met Marcy, Macu, and Cisco—she would have adored them, doted on them. She would have helped me move into my apartment, or maybe we would have traveled together to California and Canada, where her other children live now. Often I think, she would have been proud of me: She would have been reading Candy, and at every book launch she would have had a front row seat, the way she did at my ballet recital all those years ago. Then I think, I bet she's proud of me nonetheless. Of all of us. I bet she marinates us in her love each day, seasons us with prayers and blessings more times than we can imagine.
I bet she's cooking up a storm for everyone up there. And I bet her tapa and pinakbet are still perfect.
*My favorite Local Natives song, a fitting tribute to our dearly departed.