Thank you, Allan Milne Lees. All I hope is that I have done my loved ones justice with this piece.

Thankfully, some are still very much alive in a physical sense but those who no longer are still occupy pride of place in my heart.

How could they not? To give you an idea, Papi died in 1996, Mamie in 2015, and Anthony in 2018.

If you haven’t read her work yet, Agnes Louis has written many heartfelt pieces about losing loved ones and how death is dealt with in her culture. It is so much more respectful, so much more loving than how we Westerners approach it, at least on a societal (rather than individual) basis.

In my family , we’ve become a lot more open about death since my stepmom’s Stage IV cancer diagnosis. Death jokes are routine, we don’t shy away from discussing it, and this attitude informs my interactions with everyone these days. Here again I have Anthony to thank for being so open about how he was dealing with his impending demise.

Death is part of life, the sooner we take this on board, the better. When you understand your time is finite, you don’t tend to squander the present projecting yourself in a future that is never guaranteed.

That’s why I’m a huge fan of all the little things so many of us take for granted, because they’re so very valuable.

A smile, a cup of tea, a hug, a ray of sunshine, a hot shower, the purr of a cat, the smell of roasted chestnuts…

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