"And hold that pose for me." That's what Ciara "Minaj" Frazier's family would hear in the middle of the night, as Ciara was up late voguing, according to her sister Lunetta Frazier.
"We definitely miss her, listening to that," she said. "Dancing, voguing through the kitchen and through the house."
Before her death in 2018, Lunetta didn't know a world without Ciara. Her very first memory is of Ciara being bornthey're two years and seven days apart, she said.
"She would always give me a real tight hug," she said. "To know that I won't have that hug again, or our kids won't….It's hard to put into words."
Years after Lunetta went to the hospital for Ciara's birth, she said Ciara returned the favor. When Lunetta had her son in 2009, Ciara was one of the first people to hold him in the hospital. From that point on, Ciara was a patient and fun aunt.
"These kids would go back and forth over a toy, and she would be gentle about that," Lunetta said. "She would just start singing, 'Let it go, let it go!' And she'd give them some other stuff to play with."
It hurts to know that she won't be there to see the kids grow up, Lunetta said. But each Christmas, their dad buys a gift for the kids on behalf of Titi Ciara, Lunetta saidshe is certainly not forgotten.
To Ciara, her family mattered more than anything. Lunetta said she had tattoos of the initials of her mother, dad, siblings, niece and nephews. And she was a fierce protector.
Ciara's sister Davina Frazier recalls how Ciara would not let anyone say a bad word about her sisters. They used to have a saying"We're all that each other have, no matter what." And she said that Ciara would live up to that phrase, always making sure her sisters felt supported. Everything felt easier when she was around.
"I never felt like her love or protection ever wavered," Davina said. "She was crazy about us and we was about her."
When they were kids, Lunetta was afraid of ghosts. Ciara's room was across from her's, so she would throw her shoes down to her door and wait for Ciara to come out before she walked down the hallway at night. Ciara would always make her feel safe, Lunetta said.
As they grew up, it was always clear that Ciara would become Ciara, she said. At about 15 years old, Ciara started working in a cafe that did outreach for LGBTQ+ teens. And after leaving home at 18, she came out as transgender when she came back to visit.
"We accepted it, because we knew her truth," Lunetta said. "I could see how it was liberating for her."
Her name Ciara "Minaj" came from her favorite musicians, R&B princess Ciara and rap boss Nicki Minaj. Lunetta said the Frazier sisters used to bicker over the best girls in the music industry. Ciara absolutely loved musicand she took her style seriously, too.
One of her signature looks was her lashes. It used to be difficult to buy long lashes outright, so she would get two or three packs and glue them together, Lunetta said.
The Frazier sisters now run a company named Queen Litt, selling lingerie, lashes and candles. A fluffy, long lash is named after Ciara, as well as a candle. The scent is modeled after Chanel No. 5, which all the Frazier sisters loved, Davina said. When it's burned, the sweet smell can fill a whole housejust like how Ciara's smile could light up a room.
"It reminds me of my sister, and how you can just feel her energy," Davina said. "Her good spirit and vibe is very similar to me to that scent and how loud it is."
Ciara's unique presence and style also drew inspiration from Nicki Minaj, said her friend Destinii Jones. The first time they met in 2009, she had hair like Minaj: black with a bang, pink tracks in the back. Minaj also inspired some of her ballroom looksCiara moved back and forth between Chicago and Minnesota, and was active in both scenes, Lunetta said.
"No matter what, Ciara was herself and you couldn't help but respect that," Jones said. "I liked her drive."
Davina said that she would pass that confidence to the people around herand there was never a time that she heard Ciara put herself down.
But Jones said that a lot of people didn't understand Ciara. That's something that she faced in life and after her death, Jones added.
"I just wish they really would have seen her for her spirit and her character," she said. "But a lot of people don't understand the life of what it's like to be a Black transgender woman, and they judge us before they meet us."
If people just knew Ciara, they would love her, Jones said. She was incredibly selfless, and there wasn't anything she wouldn't do for her friends or family.
In return, Jones said Ciara had a lot of people who cared for herand it isn't right that she is so often reduced to her death.
"That was someone who was proud of me and supported me," Jones said. "People and police might think of her as just another dead transgender (woman) but we have relationships with people. We have bonds. Whoever took her life, I want them to know what they took from us."
Both Lunetta and Davina said there's no words to describe what it's like to be without Ciara. They will never be the same, they said.
"Everything's been different since 2018," Davina said. "That's not something you prepare for. Siblings are like your first best friends. We just miss and love her so much. But I'm glad for us to have great stories to tell of her."
Ciara was a friend. She was a sister, a daughter and an aunt. She used to sing and laugh, dance and vogueover R&B tracks, through the houses of family and friends and across ballroom scenes floors. In the memories of her friends and family, that's how she will stay: smiling, sweet and confident, and always, always, holding that pose.