Dear Sons,

Today is Wednesday, October 7th. This date likely doesn’t carry much meaning for you but for your aunt and I it does. Twenty-five years ago today our mother (your grandmother) passed away from a long bout with breast cancer. I was fifteen years old and your aunt was only ten.

I have lived longer without my mom than I did with her. Cancer sucks.

You’ll never have a chance to meet your grandmother but I know she would have absolutely adored you two. She was such a happy, friendly and genuine person. She was a great mother and a good person and the world would have been a different place had she lived. I still can’t believe it’s been so long since she passed away.

I’m not writing this to gain yours or anyone’s sympathy. The time for sympathy has long since past. I write this to tell you about a few lessons losing my mom has taught me about life.

The impacts of losing a parent or close relative are pretty obvious, but they’re not all bad, believe it or not. I know you may be wondering what the heck I’m talking about. What good could possibly come out of losing your mom?

Well, losing my mom at such an early age had a huge impact on who I ultimately became as an adult. I lost my mother and grew up knowing what it was like to not have a parent present. I vowed to always be there for you, no matter what because I knew how difficult it was without such an important figure in my life.

I also feel like I’m better able to empathize with others because of her passing. When something bad happens to someone else, you’re just on the outside looking in. But when something bad happens to you, that’s a whole other story entirely. Something bad happened to me, but I still survived. I feel like I’m able to empathize with those that experience loss more than I would have had I not experienced my own loss as well.

I also became very introspective after she passed; I’m sure that’s normal, too. I’m pretty sure I cried every night for the first three months or so. I learned a lot in that time, however, it wasn’t until I reached my thirties that I began to realize my own mortality. My mom passed away when she was only thirty-eight, just seven days before her thirty-ninth birthday.

I’ve already lived to be older than my mom did. I can’t imagine you two growing up without me. Cancer sucks. I hate cancer.

I do still struggle sometimes, especially on days like today. I realize that I can’t remember exactly what her voice sounded like. I’m sure I’d recognize it if I heard her but I can’t recollect her voice like I once was able to do. Spending twenty-five years without her has made some of those memories I did have of her fade. I have a few pictures to remind me of the time we had together, but the more time I spend without her the more distance I feel as well.

That makes me sad just writing it out. But it’s the truth. I’ll never forget her, but it no longer feels like “just yesterday” as it once did. It now feels like an eternity ago that she passed.

Losing my mom helped me to realize that our time is limited on this earth; we never know exactly how long we’ll have. As children and as teenagers, we think we’re invincible and that we (and our parents) will live forever. I know I felt that way when I was younger and I also know that children shouldn’t have to worry about their or their parents’ mortality.

Kids should just be kids.

Losing my mom taught me that our time is precious and something that we can’t get back if we suddenly lose it. I don’t expect you to learn this lesson now. Just know it’s something daddy thinks about each and every day (not just on October 7th).

Love,

Dad

P.S. Cancer Sucks!

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