Mom wrote this very emotional (to me) email a few days before I graduated college. I printed it and saved it in a box along with all the letters she sent me while I was at school. I remember she kept bugging me to tell her what I wanted for a graduation gift, and I just repeatedly told her to pay for the tassel on my cap and gown set, which was something like $5.00, because I knew she didn’t have any money.

May 1, 1996 8:22 PM ET
Subject: hi from home

hi hon,
it’s getting closer. g      told nana the reason yo can’t come up with what you want for grad. is because you are afraid to graduate and are in denial. i could understand that.
i’ve just been looking in AOL under marketplace for jobs. if you look in the right place, you could get connected. i guess you already thought of it, huh?
i can’t wait to see you. i wish i could give you something really special for graduation– a little more than a tassel? that doesn’t fit…
i wonder if you have any idea how much i really do love you. i want to give you all the words of wisdom and all the common sense i’ve left out of your upbringing for the last twenty years or so. sometimes i wish i could have been different for you and jen, you know, less emotional and less wrapped up in my own hurt – i tried, i really did.
you guys are the world and more to me. i am sooo proud of you both. i just hope i gave you enough of the right stuff for you to be happy. i wanted to give you a desire to seek the good in people and in life, a hope in the future. i wanted for you and jen never to be afraid of living life to the fullest and always to treasure every single moment. i wanted you to know that loving each other is the most important thing in the world and loving yourself is the second most important. i wanted to help you find god – i guess i blew that one, but maybe someday we’ll figure it out, if indeed there is an “it” to figure. most of all, i wanted you to know that you are always, always loved, no matter what you do or say, that you are the best of your dad and me and all the albaneses and gagnes before you, and that you don’t have to be perfect.
i guess i’ve gone beyond schmaltz. i just don’t know if i’ll get the chance to tell you all this stuff this weekend with so many people around.
i love you, david. i love you. love you. love you.