Don’t you wonder sometimes where are loved ones go when they leave us? No, not the loved ones who break up with us (we know they go to hell) or the ones who move away to chase dreams, but the llo’s (lost loved ones) the ones we bury and mourn and turn into sacred memories swallowed over coffee. Where are they? Where’s my Toya, my Mama, my friend Donald, that guy I dated after college who slid on black ice and became a eulogy with typos? Did they vanish, poof, thin air, that’s it and that’s all? Are they ghosts who show up around Halloween to spook and frighten? Are they trapped in some mid-city between here and hereafter? We would both be gazillionaires if we knew the answers to those questions. But here’s what I do know: Toya meant it everytime she told me she loved me. And our love is forever, beyond time and circumstance and illness and cancer and chemo. We started adoring each other 31 years ago and nothing will ever separate us, not even death, with his big puffed out chest and steel toe boots. I’m not sure where my girl is right now but I know where she is not: in a vault, at the cemetery, underground, behind a locked wrought-iron gate. Part of her is in me, melded inside my heart closer now than ever before. When I’m in my right and happy mind, I tell myself it’s better this way, now that she’s spirit. Now I can take her with me everywhere and I don’t have to ask her if she wants to go. I don’t have to wait as she wades through her social calendar to see if there’s room for me tomorrow. I don’t have to hear her say “let me call you back about that.” I just get in my car and say Girl let’s go to the movies, the bank, the job, the library and she is right there beside me in the passenger seat telling me which way to turn. So there. I’ve answered my own question. My llo’s are not gone, they are here wherever my here happens to be. I can live with that.