Carolina's mom died last year. She was still sad, of course, but some days she was more sad than others.
She got out the box on those days. The box was full of special things that reminded her of her mom.
On bad days, she sat alone in her room, carefully removed each item from the box, and laid each on the floor in front of her.
First, she pulled out the half-used lipstick that she had taken from her mom's purse on the day that she died. Carolina remembered her mom putting on the lipstick every morning. Sometimes she would pass it to Carolina when she was done. Carolina would apply it to her lips just like her mom had done, but she could never make it look as perfect as her mom's did. Her mom would smile, grab a tissue, and wipe off Carolina's clown mouth.
Next, she pulled out the bookmark she'd found in one of her mom's favorite books. Sometimes, when her mom was reading, Carolina would slip next to her on the sofa and curl up in the crook of her arm. Her mom would smile down at her and then go back to her book. Carolina would rest her head on her mom's chest, feeling the rise and fall of breath going in and out of her mom's lungs, and let her eyes close as her mother twirled Carolina's long hair through her fingers.
The final thing Carolina pulled out of the box was the last picture that was taken of the two of them. Carolina's dad had taken it on their beach vacation. Carolina's mom taught her how to body surf on that trip, the gentle waves carrying them to the shore, giggling and gasping for breath. Afterward, they'd all sit on their towels under the beach umbrella and snack on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, drops of thick jelly falling on their tanned legs.
Carolina crawled into bed and put the picture of her mom on the pillow next to her. She closed her eyes and imagined her mom sitting next to her on the bed, reading her a story. Carolina even imagined she felt the ghost of a soft kiss on her forehead, just before she fell asleep.