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What Happens When You Lose Everything In One Day?
You can lose everything in the blink of an eye. Here's how one girl lost then found the most important things in life.

My old diary is sitting in a colored box in my room. I was afraid to open it, but I finally did. There’s too much in here to remember, but it was the one thing that helped me through one of the most difficult periods of my life.

I was surprised it lasted that long. As I pieced the fragments and vignettes I chose to remember, I recalled how hard life was for my family. Many of the stories are disjointed. There are still a lot of details I am not ready to recall. They are mostly painful, some sad, others I still don’t understand. Yet in the middle of all these events are lessons that I will take with me for the rest of my life.

Where do I begin?
I’ll start with Papa. Handsome and intelligent, he’s always the center of attention. He’s the one people talk about when they leave a party. A visionary and a maven. My brother and I simply idolized him. We believed he could be President and lower prices of food, remove bad men from the streets, and most important, have the TV stations reinstate Sesame Street and Voltes V.

Mama is the strong, analytical type. Extremely elegant and devoted to her children, she wouldn’t think twice about jumping into a lake to save her son even though she didn’t know how to swim. Very organized and very strict, she taught us how to be good human beings, how to question actions and not upbringings, and how critical it was to our development that we learn to make our beds every morning.

Like most baby boomers, they married early (23), started a family and worked like horses for nine hours every day. They toiled to give us a nice house, yummy food, and fantastic birthday gifts. We were able to attend private schools and go on nice vacations. On the weekends, we’d be at the park the whole day. That’s how important we were—and still are to them. None of that has changed, I believe, even though we have.

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Data P. Tolentino
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