At 6:45am this morning, June 9th 2018, my great aunt Malika died. I call her my great aunt not just because she was the sister of my grandmother, but also because she was a great person, to me, my mother, and so many others. She was incredibly kind, loving, and giving. In our last conversation she told me that as soon as she was out of hospice she would be getting started on making my wedding dress for me. It wasn’t something that I had given much thought to, since I don’t plan on getting married at the age of twenty-two[1], but the pain cut through me, because at only 69 years young, there should have been plenty of time for her to make me a dress for when I do get married at some point in the future.

Malika was an excellent seamstress, and upon thinking about it I never would have considered anyone else as a viable candidate for making me a dress. She used to make all sorts of little dresses for my dolls, and one year she even made me my own “Princess Talia” costume.

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Princess Talia with her aunt Malika, October 1st 2002.

Disney hadn’t developed any black princesses yet when I was in the first grade, and so with Malika’s help, I became my own princess. The costume was incredibly detailed, and so soft. It even had detachable puffy sleeves, to account for October not being the most consistent month in terms of temperature. Bright pink and drenched in glitter, it was exactly what I needed in a time before the world properly started to acknowledge that black is beautiful.

No matter what I needed, Malika was always there to support me, and I do not think I could be where I am in my life without her. I know that she was suffering, and that she is in a better place now, but I still miss her so much. She had so much to offer the world, which can be such a dark and harsh place. One of our brightest stars was indelibly dimmed.

I love you auntie. Rest in peace, and give cousin all Anthony our love.

Talia

[1] I know that some people do get married this young, which is fine for them, but isn’t what I want for myself.

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