8/25/52 -- 3/22/97
She was already a woman in ninth grade, with a loud laugh, a noisy Chevy, and an older sister who taught her to dance with her hips. She was too Italian for my Protestant father, who would tell me, Be home by eleven, and then he would say, Make it ten.
She went to New York. I went to Colorado. She went back to Flint. I went on to Oregon.
I saw her when I was home for my father’s funeral. She still wore her tight jeans, black eyeliner, the dangling gold gypsy earrings, although now there was the secret tumor, growing slowly under all that wild dark hair.
The night of the day she died never got dark. I never went to bed, stayed up all night drinking Chianti with friends who never knew her. There was a slow sunset with low red clouds, and then the huge, misshapen moon, the first full moon of spring, hanging flat and pink in a pewter sky, she and my father, out there somewhere together.