Business trips to Los Angeles have always been special for Colorado's Darian Hagan.
A Los Angeles-area native and one of the greatest players in CU history, Hagan is in his third season as the Buffaloes' running backs coach. Trips to L.A., either to recruit or to play, meant spending time with mom.
This weekend, however, was different.
"It's going to definitely be different because I won't be able to see her," Hagan said this past week as the No. 19 Buffs (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) prepared for Saturday night's contest with Southern California (3-2, 2-1) at the Los Angeles Coliseum. "But, and she would say the same thing, life goes on."
This fall, Hagan has been through a wide range of emotions. His mother, Wanda Louise Webb, passed away on Sept. 9, and three days later, Hagan and his wife, Donnah, welcomed a baby boy, Demari, into the world. Wanda's funeral was two days later.
"With the baby being born, you get one loss and you get happiness," Hagan, 48, said. "I tell my wife all the time ... (Demari) is my mom looking over us. I'm saddened, but at the same time, I have a new baby."
Throughout an emotional period of time, Hagan has managed to stay focused on helping the Buffaloes to their best start in 20 years.
"I think he's handled it unbelievably," CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "To have a son one night and bury your mom the next day, I don't know if many people have experienced that. He handled it really well.
"He's been a great example to us as a staff and to the kids that he coaches every day. It's been pretty amazing how he's handled it."
Hagan credits his mother for giving him a solid foundation to deal with the emotions of this season.
"I think it comes down to how she raised me," he said. "You never know what life's going to throw at you and you have to deal with the punches and deal with the things that are thrown your way."
Wanda battled cancer five times before she passed, and Hagan said that knowing her suffering is over has helped him.
"It was really, really difficult," he said of losing Wanda. "We talked every day. I was around her all the time. When I would go (to L.A. for work), I wouldn't stay in hotels necessarily. I was her first (child) and we were really, really close.
"I was hurt and I was saddened, but at the same time, she had suffered for so long dealing with cancer. She had five bouts with it. She never once complained. She never felt sorry for herself. I was sad, but at the same time, it's OK, because she doesn't have to suffer."
Football has helped Hagan, too, as he comes to the field every day ready to work with CU's running backs.
"Football has definitely helped me with it," he said. "And having a newborn. If I didn't have the newborn, I'd be sitting around at home when I got out of practice.
"(Demari) has brought that calming peace to where I don't have to think about it. I can just think about him, think about taking care of him and being around him and making sure that my wife is comfortable and that she has everything she needs."
Hagan has had three other children, but it has been 22 years since he last had a newborn. Demari's birth has brought Hagan some joy that he needed, even if it means he has to re-learn how to change diapers.
"I told my players, I'm back in the game," he joked.
He'll take it, though, knowing that the circle of life will always keep Demari and Wanda connected.
"I take that as a blessing from above," he said.