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I ran into an old friend recently with news that made me smile. A genuine smile. The kind that begins with upturned lips, moves to your eyes, travels straight to your heart and then radiates warmth throughout your body. He reported that he became engaged at Christmas. The significance of this news filled me with joy and hope and kept me smiling for days.

You see, his first wife died from breast cancer in February 2002. He became a single dad to three children in their teen and tween years. I played flute at her graveside memorial service. And I wondered how you survive such a loss.

Less than six weeks later my own family was torn apart by the car accident that left my middle son dead, my older son reeling as the lone survivor and responsible party, and the only two children of our dear friends dead. Again, I wondered how you survive such a loss.

I remember voicing that question in the days following the accident. “How do we get through this?” Even clearer in my memory is the answer from one of the dozens of people who was in our home that day. “We don’t know, but you will show us the way.” I was much less confident of that than they were.

So here we are almost twelve years later. My friend has found love again and a partner with whom to share his life. He survived.

As I pondered the feelings of hope and joy that his news brought I realized something else. We survived too. In this new year my older son is going to become a father, making me a grandmother for the first time. My daughter is getting married. There is hope and joy for the future.

New loves, new life. That makes me smile. Can you feel the warmth?

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