I lie awake in the early hours, the urge to sleep vanished, and I find it a time of reflection: when I feel personal growth, when my eyes are opened to insight, where I see a glimpse of what my Maker has been trying to tell me all along.

Take my friendship with Nancy, for example. She is a beautiful, painfully shy, introverted co-worker who was considered aloof by many. She had trouble relating to others, even in ordinary conversation.

One early morning at work, when Nancy and I were the only ones who had arrived thus far, I received a phone call that my mother had passed away. I sat in shock at my desk and called to Nancy to please come into my office. When I told her the news, she wrapped me in her arms and delivered beautiful words of comfort and peace, exactly what I needed. Later, she sent a beautiful written message.

I truly gained the gift of insight that day into another’s soul and I learned not to judge harshly when others don’t live up to my expectations. They have their own battles to fight.

Soon after my husband Vince died, I asked a sister-in-law, also a widow, to fly out and stay with me for a while. She readily accepted and arrived within 48 hours. She was there for that awful first week, helping me to take care of details, offering advice only when asked, staying close if I needed someone to lean on, and being an ever-present comfort as I transitioned from being a caregiver to one at loose ends. I wonder how I would have survived without her. She showed the way — that it is possible to move on. What a transforming idea that was for me to ponder, and I gained wisdom from her counseling.

I was at my son Ray’s side as he lay terminally ill in Colorado. Two friends flew out for a few days to comfort me. I had the privilege of being in the presence of angels who ministered to me, who made me laugh, who let me remember and weep, who heard my rants. What a wonder that was. Through their love, God wanted me to know that love hadn’t retreated, that it was alive and well, that I would survive.

Is having tragedies the only time the veil is lifted and we glimpse wonder in all its glory? No. Wonder is ever present and can be found in smiles, a handshake, a kindness, the written word, a phone call. We need only be receptive. Mourning a loved one leaves us more receptive than usual, more desperate for something to hold onto. Perhaps that is why we remember those incidents more clearly.

They are reminders to return kindnesses, give hugs or a loving word of encouragement, because we know how important and life changing they can be. Life gives us lessons, and answers, if only we’ll listen.

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Hazel Hailstone
Hazel Hailstone is 87 years young. She has been twice widowed, has two living sons, several grandchildren and two great grandchildren. She is retired from the Pearl River, N.Y., School District and presently resides in Murrieta, Calif.


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