Dear Annie: On Dec. 13, 1995, my 20-year-old son was killed in an accident at work. I was devastated. I had started putting up Christmas decorations before his death. But after his death, I had no desire to put any more up, so I decided to give the tree away.

The weekend after his memorial service found me back at work, delivering newspapers. While delivering papers, I heard a voice say, “If you don’t put up the tree, you dishonor Danny.” I spent hours trying to understand but finally let it go. Later that day, when I had finished my chores, I sat down in the recliner. I picked up the pad of paper and pencil beside it to do some sketching. But instead, I watched in amazement, as my hand seemed to have its own mind. I was multiplying numbers. I came up with a huge number and followed it by a colon and the number 1. I wasn’t sure what the numbers meant at first. Then it dawned on me.

Life or death only occurs when the soul arrives or leaves the body. It happens in the blink of an eye. The 1 in my equation stood for the one second it took for Danny’s soul to leave. The huge number to the left was the number of seconds he had lived. And no matter how horrible, how painful that one second of his death was, it was nothing compared with the millions of joyous seconds of his life.

So I allowed myself to grieve, but not for long. I wasn’t being fair to Danny by letting that one second overcome the rest. The day of his death means nothing. The day of his birth means everything. Every year, starting on the day after his birthday, I begin collecting stuffed animals. On his birthday, I take these animals to the hospital for the children who are patients there. I also ask the hospital staff to take some home for their own children because of the care they gave my son. — Sandy

Dear Sandy: I’m so moved; I’m at a loss for words. All I can say is thank you, so very much, for sharing your beautiful, powerful story with the world.

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