This prompt involved a tasting plate of Mexican candies: Cocada, Cocada Caramel, Tamarindo, among others (click on the candy names and read their descriptions for inspiration).
What I wrote is below (what I titled my candy prayer).
Thank you, Mama, for the trips to Goodrich Dairy on Saturday afternoons in those last weeks of summer, when the shortening days brought on a dull melancholy, sweetened by a butterscotch shake. Thank you for Sears and JCPenney, where you let me make my own decisions about which corduroy pants matched which long-sleeve velour shirts, aided only by the Garanimals tags and my good fortune: inheriting your eye for color.
Thank you for hours in the avocado kitchen, squatting down to get the perfect pan for the perfect cake, or chewy brownies, or corn muffins with their golden caps and soft centers.
Thank you for never saying, “Boys don’t act like that,” or walk like that, or sing those songs—ever—you never said any of that. Do you know how rare that is?
Thank you for bedtime stories: Stuart Little, The Wizard of Oz, and The Story of Ferdinand, a bull, a Taurus like me, who didn’t want to fight, but instead preferred to lie in the middle of the ring and smell the flowers—las rosas—sweetness emanating from the hair of all those women in the stands.
Thank you for marrying a man who loved children, who held them in his lap, and sang them to sleep, and carried them—me—from the car after a long ride home to a warm bed. A man who kept us safe and let us dance while standing on his feet. A man who opened his heart to all my boyfriends, some as dark as bittersweet chocolate. A man who helped me hold the grief of losing you—losing us—so that I could somehow make it to the other side of that terrible place without you, that place I find myself in now, so different from your life, so different from the life I imagined. Did you somehow prepare me for something much bigger?
Did you dream of vacations in Mexico, of writing cookbooks, of singing four-part harmonies with beautiful men and women in tiny, sound-proofed rooms? Can you see me sitting here now, writing, finally safe after all of these years, taking in the sweetness that others offer me, every day, like caramel or Hershey’s Kisses, like dark honey by the spoonful? Can you see how you taught me to give it all back? Can you see me? Can you?