“Mom died on the first day of school.  She’d been really sick that entire summer.  And she passed away on a Monday.  At 7 AM.  Almost exactly the time I’d be leaving for school.  I don’t think I fully grasped how traumatic it was for me.  I was there when she took her last breath.  I comforted my little sister while she said goodbye.  And the next week I had to start classes at a brand new school.  I was a junior at the time.  All the teachers knew what happened.  And they had told all the students, so everyone was pitying me when I showed up.  I met Alex that very first day.  We were in choir together.  We became friends almost immediately, but we didn’t start dating until we were both cast as leads in Seussical The Musical.  We became more serious during college, and we ended up getting married right after graduation.  I felt so sad that my mom couldn’t see any of it.  Every time a big event would happen, it would be like, she’s not here.  And she’s never going to be here.  I was a moody, shitty teenager when she died.  And I’m having this whole life where I become the person I’m supposed to be, and she doesn’t get to see any of it.  She’s not going to see me graduate.  She’s not going to meet my children.  And it especially sucks that she’ll never get to meet Alex.  We lit a lantern at our wedding to signify that my mom was still with us.  It was a beautiful ceremony, and afterwards we took our honeymoon in Hawaii.  A few days into the trip, I received a call from my oldest friend Meredith.  She sounded excited.  She’d just discovered a picture of our childhood soccer team, and there was a boy who looked just like Alex.  When I showed Alex the photo, he confirmed that it was him, he’d played goalie on that team.  I just started laughing.  It was such a God moment.  It was a moment when everything felt connected.  Alex and I had known each other as children, back when my mom was still alive.  The first thing I did was call my dad.  I asked him if he remembered anything about the Swan’s Dermatology Soccer Team.  ‘I remember the goalie,’ he replied. ‘During the games he’d always sit down in the net and play with the dirt.  And your mother thought it was hilarious.’”