I was 22 years old. I was in college. I was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. I loved it. And then I got sexually assaulted.

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The hero dies in this one: a tribute to my mom

Mom passed away on August 16, 2015. She was 51. She was an English teacher for almost 30 years. Managed to make an impact and leave a legacy in every single institution she worked for. She loved dumb TV shows, music, Whataburger, and singing loudly off-key. She made the best cheesecake in the world. She was fiercely loyal. She spent sleepless nights making sure we had everything, and her homemade Halloween costumes were great. Loved to quote Lionel Ritchie’s “Hello” all the time. She is survived by three daughters (Alex, 27, Gabs, 17, and Mena, 11), four siblings, and friends and family who will miss her forever.


I was 15.

Mom was playing Solitaire on our old computer while I listened to music, which was one of our favorite ways to spend time together. At that time, I was utterly obsessed with “So Long, Astoria,” an album by The Ataris that had plenty of relatable songs for me to devour.

“This one reminds me of you,” I told her, turning the volume up as the first notes started playing.

Mom smiled, eyes still on the screen. “What is it about? What’s the name?”

“It’s called ‘The Hero Dies in This One,’” I said, holding the CD case up. “And I don’t know, some lines just remind me of you.”

She listened to it with me, her hand hovering over the mouse, not playing anymore. When the song ended, she smiled again, and looked at me.

“I also love you more than you will ever know,” she said. Then chuckled, and added: “Loser.”

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