I lost one of my dear friends yesterday. He was 86 and deemed it was “his time’, but it still hurts nonetheless. He and his wife lived across the street from me. He was in the hospital for almost two months before he died. When we’d visit, he’d exclaim that he really liked the hospital’s stir fry and he’d had it 9 times, or he’d talk about coffee around the campfire. That was just like Smitty; he was always finding the little things that gave him pleasure. He was such a kind, fair man. Salt of the earth- he would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.

His wife was a hero in my eyes. She let him go with grace and dignity, exactly like he wanted, when he wanted, “just like we talked about”. I would see her leave the house before it was light out and she would not return home until after dinner. She had known him since they were 13 years old. I am inspired by her strength. We went over to their house the evening after his death to pay our respects to his wife. I tried (to no avail) not to grieve in front of her because her grief is immeasurable compared to mine. At the end of the visit, she gave a genuine smile and said it was good to laugh a little. Again, finding the positive in a sea of loss.

I cried myself to sleep. This morning I woke to the opportunity to attend another good friend’s naturalization ceremony. Sitting in the courtroom, I have never seen a more grateful group of people, about to become citizens of America, land of immigrants. Each person painstakingly struggled in their own way to command a privilege into which I was born. I was immediately filled with gratitude myself.

Sometimes the ebb and flow of life brings you long periods of bliss followed by hard times. Other times it happens within 24 hours. Joy, sorrow, pleasure, pain. Buried in grief, then filled with celebratory victory for my friend, and able to appreciate all that I am given. It’s all about PERSPECTIVE.

Today in Arizona, there are 75 new Americans from 32 different countries who came here to give themselves and their families hope for a better life. They all pledged their commitment to this country and we gave thanks for those who died for our freedom. Whatever your political views, God bless America. In that we are undivided.

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