I tend to forget what "family" means.

Until I visit, that is. Then I take a few quiet moments to myself and just look at all the family photos.

Yesterday, I stood in Pa’s hallway and stared at the photos of the Cabrera family over the years. I, being camera shy, had very few up; in fact, the most recent photo of me on that wall is a senior photo from high school. The cheesy, awkward smiles light up that hallway, spanning three rooms, all the way from my dad’s old room to the master bedroom.

My eyes inevitably bounce between the pictures of my grandma, and these span from when she was my age until the holidays just before she died. In the living room, there is the iconic image of my grandparents on their wedding day in the late 1950s. Then there are photos from the cruise they went on for their 50th anniversary.

I noticed today that I preferred to glance over all the photos. I was purposely avoiding my grandma’s gaze. Her eyes, which seem so much like mine, were always so warm and happy. I suppose I purposely avoid thinking about her when I’m home because it’s still difficult to grasp that she’s gone.

I’ll finally graduate from college in May, and I wasn’t sure if I would put myself through the whole graduation ceremony. Personally, I don’t need it. I would be content with my diploma. However, I put the decision out of my own hands: if my dad and grandpa actually attend the ceremony in San Francisco, I will grin and bear it. I will wear the crap out of that purple graduation gown.

Pa said he’d come with my dad, and then he said something that made me freeze: “I wish your grandma could see it. She was always talking about you graduating.”

I froze for a second, and all I could come up with in response was: “Well, Pa, then you have to come to see it for her.”

Such a feeble reply, but it is true.

There is definitely something about family that I miss. I wish it didn’t have to take coming back to remind me of that.

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