There are things you suddenly recall when a best friend dies. Memories arrest the heart with acute clarity. How we met in the freshman dorm lobby. The Sade poster above her bed that she swore was her spitting image. Her love of cowboy boots and designer watches. The year she handmade everything she we wore. Her Boston accent. The fact that she was essentially raised an only child by her single dad.

And oh how Tiffani loved him. Mr. Roberts was a part of every other conversation during our Hampton University years. Girl, are we really talking about your dad in the middle of the yard?! There are boys to be seen!

The man was clearly a #perfectparent.

When Tiff died in 2009 after a confounding illness, her only child—a daughter—was 5. Tiffani had been a single mom. Mr. Roberts, much older then and distraught beyond consolation, seemed to want to do only one thing: take that child and raise her. At the funeral, I took to the podium and caught a mournful glimpse of them. Two the hard way, I thought, all over again.

Let’s talk about family.

Read more in the November 2015 issue of EBONY Magazine.