July 4th, 2011
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Photo by Eileen Milner
Today is Independence Day, a day we as a nation celebrate to mark our break with the Kingdom of England and our birth as the United States of America.  As Americans living in a dynamic democracy, we share many freedoms that we sometimes take for granted.
We are so lucky to live here and blessed with our way of life.  It continues to be a work in progress but I’ll take it over any other system of government.  I send my thanks to our leaders and those in the military who protect and serve us and put their lives on the line for us every day.
Many of you are missing those precious loved ones who lost their lives in the line of duty.  Or maybe you are missing those who were with you this time last year or perhaps many years before.  There seems to be no independence from the journey of grief.  But there is hope and healing.

We pick ourselves up and go on with our lives because we must.  We may remarry, have additional children and meet new friends.  Yet there will always be that special place for that special person and no one can take that away or change it.  It is yours.

We can’t stop time but we can reminisce.  Some people create a personal rite to mark the memory of a loss.  My friend, Eileen, who took the beautiful photograph of the bright pink flower posted here, tirelessly raises funds for breast cancer and organizes a large group of people to walk in the Susan G. Komen Walk For The Cure every year in memory of her dear sister, Rose.
That is powerful.  It is taking your pain and turning it into a positive experience.

The Fourth of July always reminds me of a dear friend lost many years ago, Bobby Dolan.  Bobby made the best potato salad in the whole world and all of his friends constantly badgered him for the recipe.  He never gave it to any one.  After he died, we asked his wife, Darlene, if she knew it and she said didn’t.  “I have no idea.  I wasn’t even allowed to be in the kitchen for the last steps of the recipe,” she said.

I kept trying to figure out the recipe and seem to have come pretty close to Bobby’s version.  So today my friend, Joan, is having her annual Fourth of July cook-out and it is understood that I will make the potato salad and when we eat it we all talk about Bobby.

We take the memories of our loved ones and freeze frame and hold them dearly in our hearts.  They are like old friends that we visit from time to time.  While those memories can make us cry, laugh, and shake our heads in wonder, those same memories can also help us heal.
Grief is a challenge and it is a slow.  We all work through it at our own pace and know that ups and downs are part of the process.  Take comfort in the fact that you will eventually heal and see life from a different perspective.
Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote When Bad Things Happen to Good People after the death of his young son.  Here are his words of wisdom:  “I think of my son and all that his life taught me, and I realize how much I have lost and how much I have gained.  Yesterday seems less painful, and I am not afraid of tomorrow.”
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