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And here we are, perched on the precipice of May. In New Haven, that means final exam studying for Yale students, the cherry blossoms burgeoning in Wooster Square, and the one year anniversary of mom’s death.

As April ends, my body seems to be simultaneously remembering and bracing itself for the raw pain and disbelief that occurred in the early hours of a late May morning last year—my brother in Ohio and I in Connecticut, linked together by technology and shock, as we waited for the paramedics to leave and the coroner to come.

That shock, that silence, I experienced last May has quite worn off. Now, for the first time in my life, I am prone to tears in public. Everything from the singing of my mother’s favorite hymn to a flitting memory of a place, a time, an object we shared, brings on an onslaught of silent tears. Snotty, gross, face-pinching tears.

This Sunday was no exception. I attended a friend’s recital, and, as I’m prone to do these days, I thoroughly read the program notes in advance. The final piece, Triptych by Tarik O’Regan, dealt heavily with death and remembrance, i.e. plenty of emotional triggers for me. I breathed a sigh of relief. Big emotions would hit me around movement 2, and I’d be ready.

Except, I wasn’t.

As the choir began to sing about how we remember our dead through all life’s the seasons, both emotional and natural, I began to cry–quietly and hard. I reached into my pocket, looking for a tissue, a soft, white wisp of paper that would make my emotional rawness a little more polite (one should not have snot running down one’s face in public; unless, you are a toddler and do not yet have the proper motor skills to amend the situation). There was no tissue. I was out.

But at that moment, something soft fell on my left hand. I looked down. There was a tissue: white, clean, and from my friend Tawnie. She had also been reading the program notes, figured out that movement 2 would be hard for me, looked over for confirmation, and mercifully threw me a tissue.

I couldn’t help smiling through my tears. There was something utterly ridiculous and wonderful about the whole encounter. Though my body possessed a grief that was raw, deep, and barely controllable, that little white tissue, barely the weight of a feather, freely given, freely thrown, gently answered my loss and pain with love and care. That which appeared to be fragile conquered that which appeared to be fathomless.