That’s me. Sans makeup. Sans Photoshop. Sans eyebrow waxing. Sans extensions. Sans a decent night’s sleep. I take selfies once or twice a year. I’m not at all photogenic, but I like to mark the biannual pressing and cutting of my hair with a commemorative photo. When I was younger I’d proudly make my way to my grandmother’s house and she’d tug at my hair and measure where the ends would fall. “Oh, sha! Look how long your hair grew!”

I miss her terribly. There are times when her loss hits me and I have to stop whatever I’m doing to sit with the pain of it. And when it passes, I pick up and start again.

I marked all of my milestones by her, good and bad. And I’d know if I was headed down the right path by how she greeted me. But she’s not here anymore. Were she here, I’d tell her that I’d finally got the house. That I’d stopped writing. That I’d started running. That I’d lost a little bit of weight. That, no, I’m not teaching any more. I haven’t for a very long time, remember? And no, I’m not seeing anyone right now, but that’s okay. I’d tell her that I finally had a closet full of dresses. How I’d made the decision to take a trip to Bequia. That I was terrified I’d chosen the wrong career—again. That Georgia had nice weather, and New York had a nicer everything else, and California was perhaps even nicer than that. I’d tell her that things were getting better for us—the collective us—because sometimes a white lie is more palatable than a black truth. I’d tell her the last thing I ever told her, that I loved her. And that I was loved, the last thing she ever told me.