Last month marked 20 years since my mom died. She died very suddenly at the age of 41 from a brain aneurysm. Since my parents had divorced when I was young and I was raised mostly by her alone, this devastated me. It took me a long time to recover from this. And as I did, I began to change.
As a young man, I was very much as I was when I was a teenager. I was stubborn, narcissistic and border-line misogynistic. If it didn't directly effect me, it didn't exist. No one's opinion mattered but my own. My relationships were clouded in jealousy and distrust. I often said things with little or no regard to other people's feelings. I was not a very good friend.
I had never really suffered anything remotely approaching tragedy. I suppose parents divorcing is fairly traumatic to a child, but I didn't recognize this then. I remember being told of a friend's parent dying, and I didn't understand what the big deal was. People die. We all will. Get over it.
And then my mom died. And finally I understood. I became aware of mortality; my own and that of others. I began to really look at the person that I was, and I didn't like him. I began to understand the hurt that I had caused people, the relationships that I ruined. I didn't want to be that person anymore.
It's been a long road from there to here. I'm saddened still to think of how I was then, but I try to make up for it now. I don't always succeed, but I try.