Willie Garson, who welcomed his son Nathen via adoption more than a decade ago, died Tuesday at age 57

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Willie Garson had a "close" bond with his son Nathen.

The Sex and the City actor died Tuesday afternoon at age 57 following a short illness, PEOPLE confirmed. He had been suffering from pancreatic cancer, and was surrounded by family at the time of his death.

Last November, Garson appeared on an episode of PEOPLE (the TV Show!), when he reflected on the adoption process and his relationship with Nathen, whom he first met as a 7-year-old while attending a Los Angeles adoption fair in October 2008. After more than a year of screenings and paperwork, Nathen was officially deemed Garson's son in January 2010.

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"We're pretty close," Garson said in November about maintaining contact while Nathen entered college. "It's hard. I'm the one, it's harder for me to let go. He's living his life, he's at college and his friends and girlfriends and tennis team and sneaking liquor and whatever they do at college. But we're there for each other, and I have to not want to make every minute of his life perfect."

"It's time for him to make his life," the dad added.

Of empty nesting, Garson told PEOPLE (the TV Show!) co-host Sandra Vergara,"I've been handling it pretty well. There's times when I talk to him and I burst out crying, and he's like, 'Will you please, enough already.' "

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willie nathen garson
Willie Garson and Nathen in 2019
| Credit: Tommaso Boddi/Getty

After news of Garson's death broke Tuesday, Nathen shared a heartbreaking tribute to his dad on Instagram, calling him "the toughest and funniest and smartest person I've known."

"I love you so much papa. Rest In Peace and I'm so glad you got to share all your adventures with me and were able to accomplish so much," Nathen wrote alongside a carousel of photos of Garson. "I'm so proud of you."

"I will always love you, but I think it's time for you to go on an adventure of your own," Nathen continued. "You'll always be with me. Love you more than you will ever know and I'm glad you can be at peace now. You always were the toughest and funniest and smartest person I've known. I'm glad you shared you're [sic] love with me. I'll never forget it or lose it ❤️😘."