Screencap from Beginners, 2010: “This is the photo my mother kept in her bedroom. When I was a kid I thought that was my arm giving her daisies. Now I make a new mistake and think it’s her arm giving me the daisies, saying, here: Here’s simple and happy. That’s what I meant to give you.” 

We said goodbye to my Tita last week. The doctors said her heart was weak and tired. When she was alive she liked taking pictures, giving presents, going to the movies, reading, talking for hours, laughing. She had such a happy laugh—I can still hear it in my mind, see her head thrown back in glee. I was painfully shy as a little girl, and I was scared of grown-ups, but I remember liking her.

The last time I saw her, she looked frail but determined. Brave. She told me she wanted copies of all my books, wanted to read all of them. "Not everyone can write a book," she declared. We made plans: once she got better we would have dinner together, or we would fly to the beach, the whole family. I made a mental note to bring her a stack of magazines. She was laughing about something when we left her hospital room.

On a Sunday afternoon we dressed in white and gathered under a tent to lay her to rest; we carried yellow flowers and heavy hearts. I thought, Look at us, Tita. We're all here