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This weekend is a weekend that I’ve dreaded for a few months now. Very early on Sunday morning, July 12th, is the third anniversary of my brother’s death. His name is Nicolas Castanon… we called him Nico.

And I still have a tough time using the past tense.

I’ll spend the majority of the day crying and smiling, looking at photos, and drinking tequila, while listening to Chente sing “El Rey” on repeat. Normally I’d smoke a little mota in Nico’s memory, but I might be offered a permanent position soon, and that would mean a drug test. Not sure I could make HR understand that it was part of my personal memorial ritual. (Nico would probably laugh at that and tease me for being a “good girl.”) Anyway, in the days leading up I think about doing something special, perhaps planting a tree or plant in his memory, or maybe throw flowers into the ocean. But the day will come, and I’ll sit in my pajamas and cry.

It’s just what I do.

Part of me feels guilty for not driving to Napa to be with my familia. But my mom has this whole thing going… it’s too much for me. She’s planned an announcement at church, a rosary at the cemetary, then a barbecue at the house. And I know everyone has to mourn in their own way. She lost her beloved son and it’s her way of dealing with the day. But to me, that’s too much like a party. I’ll party on his birthday, but not on the day he died. I can’t. It feels wrong to me. So I’ll do my thing again this year, and remember my brother in my own way.