The twins are headed back to Seattle and Miami, respectively. Once again my heart stretches impossibly from coast to coast, and down to Guatemala.

Aloha. My word of the year did not take me back to Hawaii (thank you Covid), but it has helped me cope with all of the hellos and goodbyes of 2020.

My mind is also on my grandma who would’ve been 99 today. She would not have been happy about our move to Florida, but she surely would’ve loved our new home. She’d giggle about the banana trees and fuss endlessly about me letting the curls go free most days. She’d be so thrilled that I finished writing my book. I sure miss her love and support in my life, even with all those should’ve-been-short-phone-calls-that-always-lasted-over- an-hour.

Each year when I pull out her drip candle for the holidays a little part of me gets to say “hello” to her all over again. I’m grateful for this little tradition that she passed to me and that I’ve continued with my family. Grandma doesn’t have to be here for me to envision the tears that would fall down her cheek if she saw this candle of hers, well over my age-old, still lighting up the dining room table for those she loved so well.

Happy 99th birthday in heaven grandma. Your light lives on.