Before my father’s decline, he was a preeminent scholar of Black religious history. As brilliant as he’d been, I wasn’t sure, at the end of his life, that he recognized me. He had died of dementia. Now here I was in quarantine, missing him while also working online and trying to get my picky kid to eat the wet fish sticks delivered to our room. I missed the smell of my dad’s pipe, the soft texture of his voice, and his handwriting on the index cards it was his habit to use for note-taking. The idea that the contents of his mind had vanished devastated me.

Orient themselves to my suffering? I wasn’t sophisticated enough to answer. Obviously, this couple had something to teach me. “Tell me,” I said in a voice that sounded almost like begging, “how you mourn.”

Read more in Oprah Daily.

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