Layleen Cubilette-Polanco Died in the System, but Her Fight Lives On

November 20, 2019

I didn’t immediately feel the absence of a life when I entered Aracelis Polanco’s home in Yonkers, New York, on an early Friday morning in September. The home wasn’t cloaked in shadows and despair — in fact, the ceiling’s bright fluorescent lights mixed seamlessly with the sunshine emanating through undrawn window curtains. There was a surge of everyday energy stirring among the inhabitants: the hustle and bustle of Polanco’s youngest son, Salomon, shuffling out of the front door to his first job of the day, and the adorably ferocious yips and yaps from the resident terrier, Dercy. I was receiving frantic texts of reassurance from the eldest daughter, Melania Brown, that today was still a good day for a cover shoot despite her morning ritual of dropping her children off at school. These were textbook examples of life going on after tragedy.

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