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Though much of loss is anchored in the past, some people who lose their parents lament a future they will never share. Stuart Chapin's father died when he was 25, his mother five years later. Chapin, now 40, considers what their relationship might have grown into had they lived until he'd passed his 20s, which were so consumed by a desire for independence. "I, like my parents, have sat up with a sick child. I, like my parents, have juggled mortgage payments. You receive when you are young. Now you are in a position to share the experience of being an adult, and there is no one to share it with."
Yet what Chapin regrets more than the end of his relationship to his parents is that his son will never know them as grandparents. "He's now three years old and missing out on the experience of aging," says Chapin. "I remember touching my grandmother's face--the papery skin, the strangeness and yet beauty of that. My parents will only be a story to him," he says. "I will tell the story with as much love and art as I can, but he won't be able to create his own story." --With reporting by Deborah Edler Brown/Los Angeles and Polly Forster/Washington