I would have been married 30 years this month, if Bob had lived.

He died five years ago on June 24, three days after our 25th anniversary.

Bob died of a multitude of complications — bad heart and cancer topping the list. He died six months after my oldest son, Tom, died from an accidental overdose of painkillers and anti-depressants.

Tom was a big guy — 6-foot-5-inches, 285 pounds — and he never paid attention to the recommended dosage on medications, even prescription medications. If the label said to "take two aspirin," he took four. So to get some relief from rotator cuff pain and the misery he still felt after an automobile accident, he overdid it on his prescriptions.

He was 38 when he died.

Last week, Andrew Koppel, son of the former ABC-TV anchor Ted Koppel, died at age 40 after a day of binge drinking. "We will mourn his loss all our lives," his father said.

I understand. Dealing with these deaths does not get easier with time.

My husband was my best friend and best companion. There is hardly a day that goes by that I don't think of him, or find something around the house that reminds me of him.

When I was younger, I naively thought it would be easier to lose someone "older" than "younger." A mother, father, even a husband or wife, would be easier than a child, I thought.

And a small child, or a child who had a full life ahead, I once thought would be the hardest of all.

I have learned the hard way the folly of such thinking.

Yes, I had almost 25 wonderful years with Bob. He was my second husband, a bachelor who married a woman "burdened" with three children, as his friends said at the time.

"I want a family," he said. "I know these kids and I love them."

Bob found out raising teenagers isn't a '50s sitcom, but he hung in. It didn't matter if they were his blood kids or not. Teenagers are teenagers and this step-dad became a father.

Eventually they all grew up, married and moved away. Bob and I had a few years to ourselves, enjoying vacations and planning for the retirement that never really came.

One Father's Day he got a card from Tom, who had married a lovely Hawaiian girl and moved to Maui.

"Thank you for all you have done for me," he wrote Bob. "I had to become a father myself to realize what a great dad you are."

Bob cried that day — good tears of pride.

"I have made a contribution to the future," he said. "Without your children, my life wouldn't have amounted to a damn."

Seeing Father's Day cards on the store racks reminded me how much I have lost — son, husband, my own father.

Still, I tell myself the memories are good. Eventually, you forget the bad stuff that occurred and only remember the happy moments.

I wish the same for the Koppel family.

Most of all, I wish it for my son's widow and the three sons he left behind. These boys, ages 10 to 15, have varying memories of their dad, I'm sure.

They are Tom's legacy, his contribution to the future. Because of them, he will never really be gone.

(Jane Glenn Haas writes for The Orange County (Calif.) Register. E-mail her at jghaascox.net) (c) 2010, The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.). Visit the Register on the World Wide Web at www.ocregister.com/ Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.