Jensen Family

Darin Jensen’s husband, Daniel, died of brain cancer in 2015. He shares some of the challenges he has faced being a 50-something, sole parent to three young children. His ten-year-old daughter, Ella, imagines what life would be like if she still had both of her dads.

DARIN: I think people who haven't experienced a loss in their lives cannot understand what the void is. the absolute finality of loss. Sadness can be so, so heavy. I remember mornings where I just had to keep it together until I could get the kids delivered, and then I would just lose it in the car, and I would scream, and, and cry, and just really wail, and, and pounding on the steering wheel and I remember at times pulling over because I realized I could not be driving safely in that state (laughs).

And then over time, sadness can become lighter and can be something that can actually be the touchstone to Dan. Make me feel close to him, by allowing myself the little bit of sadness that ... the moments where, uh, you know, Jack hit his first tee ball into the outfield, and can celebrate that for him, but also feel a little bit of sadness for Dan not being there to see that, and Jack not having this other dad be there to see that. And that's not so heavy, and can feel like, um, a little moment that I can still share with Dan.

When I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to react to, uh, this little behavioral issue that Max is having, or this combative attitude toward homework that Ella might come home with one day, if I can take a moment to think about how Dan would react, and the beauty of being together for so many years before you have kids is you kind of become each other. So, I feel like I am passing on to them a lot of the wisdom that Dan would, if he was here, by just consciously thinking about what he would do, to inform how I react - it's important for my decisions and my actions to be informed by that.

I know what they're missing out on. I know how much fun and love they're not getting in their lives because Dan's not here. Doesn't mean that life can't be beautiful and full of love and full of fun for them. But it would just be so much richer if Dan was here.

Close up of a young kid eating a snack with a jar full of many colored pencils in the foreground.
Close up of Ella Jensen writing with a pencil, back lit by the sun.
Close up of a young boy in a blue tshirt reading.

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