Friend-of-Everplans Mark Dimor is producing a documentary that we think is both powerful and important. The film is inspired by the experience Mark had of caring for his wife Donna after she was diagnosed with Stage IV non-small cell lung cancer and given six months to live.

For a blog series called A Matter of Life and Death, I admit that I’ve probably talked a lot more about the latter. (Sorry.)

“Can she keep this up?” you might be wondering. “This whole writing-about-death-all-the-time thing?” And the answer is, yes—with the help of a sense of humor.

After my mom’s cancer diagnosis, lots of things changed: schedules, diets, and priorities, to name a few. But one of the most difficult things to get used to was the identity crisis that ensued. Because when my mom was diagnosed with cancer, she was quickly stripped of her sense of self. It felt like whoever she was—whatever made her her—was swallowed up by a new identity: Patient.

I feel the sting of my mother’s absence most acutely at the milestones. In some ways, the milestones, no matter how many years separate them from her death in 2010, make me feel like I’ve just lost her. But in other ways, the milestones that I’ve experienced without my mother bring a new richness, too—just because my mother is gone doesn’t mean that a joyous milestone must be tragic.