My mother passed away after an extremely brief illness. When we heard the diagnosis, I drove 3 hours to be with her in the hospital and in her home through hospice care -- which lasted only 3 weeks. My husband was left to do the heavy lifting with our 2 daughters -- then ages 7 and 10. When I called to tell him I needed to stay with my mother longer as I refused to have her be alone for any length of time, I apologized for "ditching" our family and told him I was upset not being there. He said without skipping a beat, "You will be more upset by the things you don't do for your mother now while you have the chance." His strength carried me through those horrible weeks and deepened our love for each other -- and my admiration for him.