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My paternal second great-grandparents’ resting place in Long Island, New York (Medium/Kayla Simas)

“She was beautiful, wasn’t she?” My grandfather said as he pulled out an old black and white photo. The more in-depth I stared at it, I saw what the shades of gray kept covered.

October 22, 1955: Grandma, on her wedding day.

It hid the true beauty of her white veil that was very detail-oriented and sat nicely on her brunette curly locks — the same curls I received genetically from her.

The sparkle in her eyes that my grandfather boasts about is hard to see and is rather hidden in the depths of the picture’s shadows.

The gold cross wrapped around her neck, if it were taken…

One evening when I came home from college for the weekend back in 2015, my grandfather was going through my grandmother’s stuff. By that time, she had been gone for two years. A lot of her stuff still laid in the drawers and closet, and still do to this day. My mom, aunt, and I found my grandfather shuffling through her stuff looking for her rings, when we came across this piece of looseleaf paper that had “Instructions for Life” written across it. I made a copy of it, and have had it hanging in my room since that night…

Some people are lucky enough to have their childhood best friend still in their lives. Then, there are others that aren’t.

I met my childhood best friend in pre-kindergarten.

We did everything together: sleepovers, went to Bible School, the movies, played basketball, dancing school, joined Girl Scouts, cheerleading (which only lasted a few weeks, then we both quit), and so on. We even went to our first concert together to see Teddy Geiger. We had no clue in the world who he was, but went because we won tickets from Radio Disney. …

Louis Balancio’s headstone in Westchester, New York.

It’s the first day of Managing Human Conflict I [at Mercy College]. About 20 something students are in a classroom as Dr. Dorothy Balancio stands at the front of the room, preparing to start.

She takes a deep breath, then starts to speak. Her words sound meaningful and filled with sorrow.

“I am a homicide survivor,” Balancio began to say. “My son was murdered.”

The class exhales.

“My lenses are now tinted because of that horrific experience; that’s why I teach this course,” she adds.

“You are now all my Louises.”

Balancio, a Mercy College graduate herself, has taught sociology…

When grief takes over…

It’s the third day of fall and for the first time, it actually feels like fall weather. The windows of my car are rolled down and 94.7 Nash FM is blasting through the speakers, as the crisp, fresh air brushes through my now, dark auburn hair.

It’s a perfect day to take a ride through Westchester and let the car take me wherever it goes. Everything in the world around me is right; I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.

Then, that one song comes on and all of a sudden, my perfect drive turned into a teary-eyed memory stricken one.

Kayla Simas

Writer, Reporter/Journalist, & Teacher from Staten Island, New York.

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