What My Parent’s Sudden Death Made Me Believe

It started with a hot pocket.

Mindy Morgan Avitia
4 min readNov 10, 2022
Photo by Carlos Alberto Gómez Iñiguez on Unsplash

Alan died in our home when he was 39 and I was 12. It happened in the bedroom adjacent to mine. That night, I woke up to our dog barking and my mom screaming.

His body was on the floor as I gathered my dog into my room and shut out the noise of sirens, screams, and CPR attempts.

Alan was my stepdad, and one day, seemingly out of nowhere, his heart (or really his aorta) burst inside him from an aneurysm that had been there for years? months? days?

No one will ever know.

I’ve told the story of my stepdad’s death a lot. Most who know me, know when and how it happened. I tell it as some sort of narrative, with an arc — a beginning, middle, and end. I tell it as the omniscient narrator, not as an active participant in the story. It always was something that happened to my mom, my brother, or our family. But never me alone.

Twenty years later, I’m realizing it did happen to me, too.

He was my parent. He was married to my mom for most of my early childhood. We lived in the same house. He taught me how to play poker and the Hanukah prayer. He picked me up from school. I would join him for Take Your Kid to Work Day. He was my parent.



Mindy Morgan Avitia

Figuring out how to be a creative, a mom, and a good person at the same time.