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Death Came Calling on My 14th Birthday



Saturday is the 64th anniversary. The same date will mark the 50th anniversary of a personal tragedy.

At five o'clock on my 14th birthday, my father – 34, recently divorced and partying with friends – was hit by a car as he passed a darkened Kendall. Drive in Miami. He died instantly. The aftershocks have resonated ever since.

When the Florida Highway Patrol trooper knocked on our front door at dawn to alert relatives, my brother, a year older than me, opened. "Son," the trooper told him, "why don't you go back to your bedroom and let me talk to your mother."

My mother told me the news when I woke up at 9 in the morning. I remember the sunlight shining under the shadow of the window sill in my bedroom, and how my mother, still in shock, sat down by my bed and stretched out her hand to pat me on the shoulder as she began to speak. “So something bad has happened. . .

Losing a parent is a devastating blow, no matter what happens. When it happens on your 1

4th birthday, it feels a little more tragic, or maybe just more theatrical. And the reality is that everyone can bear losses. Many suffer far worse and recover remarkably well. How we respond to a life-changing setback, and what good lessons we can learn from it, is the key to shaping our lives for the better.


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