A Beacon of Light

Sometime back in the mid-1980s, I was attending a metaphysical workshop, an activity I enjoyed at that point in my life. While I don’t recall what the topic of the conference was, I do remember meeting Ann Smith. How could I not? She was friendly, exuberant, optimistic, and a sparkling bundle of spiritual energy. I liked her immediately, and we struck up a friendship.

Sharing an occasional lunch, I gradually learned more about her. She was deeply interested in the spiritual kingdom, believing that each angel and saint were there to guide humankind in their own unique way. Generally, Ann loved anything and everything that involved the occult, and that included auras, psychics, astrology, crystals, tarot cards, and continued connections with friends who had passed on before her. And talk about someone who loved good food! One of Ann’s great passions was fabulous eateries, and to describe her as a ardent and enthusiastic foodie would be a gross understatement. Will Rogers might have said, “Ann never met a restaurant she didn’t like.”

Looking back to the early 90s, when I realized my marriage was in trouble, I clearly recall the phone call I made to Ann. I was emotionally barely hanging on, and when she answered the phone, I haltingly mumbled, “Ann . . .” before I burst into uncontrollable tears. Trying to regain my composure, I said, “I’m so sorry . . .” before I began weeping again. She softly replied, “Keep crying,” and I did, until I had no more tears left. Ann knew tears were healing, and she allowed me to cry for as long as I needed. I would have never guessed how many years it would take me to heal from my divorce, but Ann was with me every step of the way, and for that, I will always be grateful.

I could go on and on about what a wonderful friend she was, but instead I’d like to share just a few highlights. Ann was delighted beyond words when I met and eventually married Sheridan, believing that the suffering I experienced with my divorce all those years ago was necessary not only for my spiritual growth, but also to give me the opportunity for a loving, new beginning. When I began writing books in 2008, starting with The Lhasa Trilogy, she was an enthusiastic supporter, and all of her friends simply had to have copies of each of my books. I could have not had a better promoter than the exuberant, energetic, bubbly Ann Smith. She was also known as “Auntie Ann” to our dogs, Karma and Buddy, and she lavished attention and care on them when Sheridan and I traveled to faraway places.

When Ann was diagnosed with colon cancer at eighty-four years of age, I knew her prognosis was poor, yet she maintained an upbeat attitude. She had experienced a full and rich life, and she was not afraid of dying. With time, our restaurant visits declined, a sure sign Ann was not doing well, and she eventually entered hospice care.

Before she died, Sheridan and I paid her a visit. I was surprised at how much weight she had lost. She was pale, her blood pressure was extremely low, yet she continued to be at peace with her approaching death. The three of us held each other’s hands, and after we expressed our love for each other, I asked her what she thought was the most important thing she had learned over her eighty-five years. She paused for a moment, smiled and said with a twinkle in her eyes, “Know when to say no.” Ann was a strong woman, always willing to speak her mind, not a shrinking violet by any stretch of the imagination, and I’ll remember her dying words for the rest of my life. Ann peaceably passed away two days later.

It’s impossible to describe in words what a loss Ann Smith’s death is not only to me personally, but also to the world. Her radiant, effervescent optimism was completely infectious, and without fail, she made the darkest times better. For me, I have lost a dear friend, a counselor, a lunch buddy, and someone I could always count on, no matter the circumstances. While I feel a profound sense of loss, I don’t feel sad, rather, I’m happy God has blessed me to have known Ann for over thirty-five years, and I feel joyous knowing that her journey will continue in the spiritual realms, her true and everlasting home. After all, hanging around with angels, saints and sages of all religions, her beloved passed friends, combined with a gourmet meal every now and then, well, that’s Ann’s idea of heaven. I can think of no one who deserves it more, and I have no doubt God has already prepared a lavish table for her.

The world will miss you greatly, Ann. You are a shining, scintillating beacon of light. I know, because I know you.

Bon voyage, my friend.

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