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I buy marshmallows in preparation for the event I don’t want to think about.

I pick them up randomly; they are not on my grocery list, but yet they are – an imperative to help my family through a troubling time. Who would have thought something with so little nutritional value would help heal souls?

We hear the news on a Thursday morning – our dear friend Carolyn has passed away. She passed away late Wednesday night, peacefully.

We are sad all of Thursday. Coincidentally, the fish dies, and we have mourning for that too; we have bad days at work and school. We are a family that misses our friend – Aunt Carolyn, our family friend who’s seen our children since they were babies. Aunt Carolyn, who taught my husband to drive at 16. Aunt Carolyn – who had been one of my confidantes and probably the best supporter of my writing efforts. Aunt Carolyn – the person who truly put people first and was always there to help. Aunt Carolyn – the one with whom an open door literally meant that “just call so I know you’re coming” and was always excited to see you and talk to you. Aunt Carolyn – the “old lady” that in my mind, was never old – always curious, still going out and drinking wine with her friends (in her later years after her husband died-it was always with the guys.) Aunt Carolyn – the one who could get lost in a paper bag (she owned this happily) she was so terrible with directions (right there with her) and finally, Aunt Carolyn – a kind, warm, loving and lively soul who never let you forget how much she cared about you, loved you fierce.

So, that evening when we were all in states of disappointment, exhaustion, sadness and just beat down by the world, I pulled out the marshmallows. Months before, we had introduced Aunt Carolyn to our culinary masterpiece, PB&J with marshmallows in the middle. I know, I know – too much sugar. But at times like this, you think about just how short and sometimes unfair life is, and by golly, having a little white cloud in your PB&J seems foolishly hopeful and happy, and sometimes that’s not a bad reminder on how to live life.

One of the last visits with Aunt Carolyn before she got sick was an indoor picnic – where we brought our culinary prowess of PB&J & marshmallows and of course, she acted like a kid, excited beyond belief; that this sandwich was of course the greatest thing since sliced bread. It was delicious, she said, happy as a clam and full of joy like she’d just been to the finest restaurant; just the thing she needed, she said, and made my children so excited to be around her, she was so enthusiastic and childlike about it all.. Gosh, how I miss her.

So on Thursday night, full of a mess of so many emotions, we sat and ate PB&J and marshmallows, in remembrance and honor of such a dear friend. All of us, silently  hoping that we’d done justice to the love she’d shown us; that we were able to send all that love back to her too in equal measure, with hope that she had carried this with her into the great wide yonder.

And just like that, marshmallows have become a little more elevated in our household. And of course, have a permanent place on our grocery list.

Godspeed, Aunt Carolyn.

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