Tell a complete stranger about a beloved family tradition.

We usually do it on her birthday, which is just after Christmas. We don’t do it on Mother’s Day, which I guess some would find surprising. And we try to do it on June 5, the day she died. Over the years we’ve had varying levels of success.

We go to a local Catholic church, one of the few that still has prayer candles available to the public. We light candles for her, and for others who have passed. We walk around, looking at the mosaics of Mary, and the stained glass depictions of the Stations of the Cross. We sit. And we pray.

I can’t speak for my father or my sister but I like to think of her as she was before she got sick. I hear her voice in my head and smile. If I make myself still and small I can feel her arms around me. And I pray, mostly to Mary but sometimes to God and Jesus.

Sometimes life gets in the way of the ritual. But it is a way to honour her, to honour her memory, and also to honour the family that we have become without her.

Next topic: You have just swallowed your pride and done something you didn’t want to do. Your friend wants to know why. The two of you are driving around an almost-full parking garage looking for a space for the friend’s oversize pickup. Write the scene.