It was only two months ago that Carson Daly received that call. His mother, 73-year-old Pattie Daly Caruso, had passed away in her sleep.

The “Today” show host said in a statement she “touched so many lives with her kindness, her giant spirit and her love of life.”

She will be terribly missed by her family and the world, but her spark will shine for eternity.

Shortly after she passed, Carson and his sister discovered their mother had written a goodbye letter to her loved ones in the case of her death — but she wrote it nearly 20 years before she died. It read, in part:

Take good care of yourselves and each other. I’m so proud of you! Each of you have brought so much joy! Work closely with God, and be faithful to His word. Teach my grandchildren as you have been taught. Live each day and celebrate life — it is God’s greatest gift! You can feel my love even now — know I am with you always, your Mommy.

carsondaly/Instagram

Upon finding it, Carson took to Instagram about it, writing:

My sister & I just discovered this “goodbye” letter Mom left in her desk drawer. It was written in the thick of her breast cancer battle. She clearly thought she might not make it. We never knew. This was 1998. She lived almost 20 years longer. She survived and thrived. Never give up.

Suffice it to say, Carson’s mother left a lasting impact on him during and after her lifetime.

On Thursday, he shared, via Instagram, that he was reading something else she wrote — only this time it was a recipe. Although at first glance, a recipe card wouldn’t seem nearly as sentimental as a goodbye letter, Carson was struck with emotion over his first Thanksgiving without her.

In fact, he wrote that from the moment he woke up, he could already feel she was missing — especially because of what smell was missing:

Deeply missing the smell of mom’s Jimmy Dean sausage as I woke up this am. Luckily, she left the family recipes for us. #Happy Thanksgiving

carsondaly/Instagram

And Carson’s wife, Siri, posted about their emotional morning as well, writing:

Every year, Carson and I would wake up to the sound of pots and pans clinking and the smell of sausage frying. This year, I am in charge of “Kiki’s stuffing” and wishing I could ask her if I need more butter (the answer would be YES). So thankful for memories, family and dear friends. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Although the holidays are a special time of year, they can also be the hardest time of year — a time when it’s nearly impossible to ignore that you are missing a loved one. Carson and his wife were brave enough to share the emotion around this year’s Thanksgiving with fans everywhere, and judging by a lot of the comments, they’re not the only ones:

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So whether you’re celebrating with a full table or with a few empty chairs, know you’re not alone, and despite all the hardship and sadness the holidays can bring, fond memories can sometimes be found in unusual places — even a cookbook.

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