I can’t begin to describe what it’s like to lose a parent. Regardless of your age—whether it happens when you’re 10, 20, 40, or 60—there’s this sense of the world suddenly going empty. It’s like the anchor to your life disappears or the map of your own self gets wiped blank. It’s the most unique pain and fear I’ve ever felt.
My mom passed away when I was in my late thirties. This was two years ago now, but I still feel like I want to pick up the phone and call her. She was a tough woman, and she raised me that way, too. But there was a softness to her when it came to family and her kids. We became friends, we really did, after I became a parent myself. Suddenly, I understood her differently. For my wife’s birthday that year, she baked a 4-tier cake. At that point, she had already been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. They gave her six months to live. She made it four and a half.
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