For me, Spokane, Washington will always be tinged with sadness and loss, but its people offered a light in the darkness for my wife and I.

I arrived with a somewhat jaded view of you, Spokane. After all, this is where my stepdaughter, Stephanie, had just died. This is where Stephanie’s choices met with the reality of life in a large, urban center.

With my wife, I was ready to settle Stephanie’s affairs and be done with you, Spokane.

But the people of Spokane showed me that there was another, less gritty side to the Lilac City.

Spokane, thank you for being kind and generous to us while we were there. I hope to always remember you that way. You extended many tender mercies to us as we felt cast adrift within your busy streets, trying to make sense of it all, disposing of Stephanie’s possessions, cremating her body, and settling her affairs.

Here are just a few ways that reminded me of the inherent goodness of humankind, Spokane.

Bill Rossey, director of Spokane Cremation and Funeral Service, charged less than the price he had originally quoted my wife for cremation before we left Pratt and then dropped the price by another $50 as we were settling up with him. He said we might need the additional money to travel home. Then, he gave us $20 back the next day, saying that we had overpaid him, when we came in to pick up her remains. He even bought a matching top to cover the autopsy incision marks still visible with the dress Kathie had picked out for Stephanie to wear.

The kind folks at Hillyard Used Tires quickly and efficiently replaced three of the tires on the minivan we were traveling in. Keith, who worked there, had a kind face and a sincere nature. After I told him the purpose for our visit on a second visit for a third tire, he lowered the price we paid.

When I think of you, Spokane, I think of the man who immediately waved us into a congested downtown street undergoing road construction as we pulled up on a side street. I think of the woman at the Spokane County Health Department, who said, while handing us Stephanie’s death certificate, “I’m sorry. That’s a hard one.”

Spokane, I see you in the face of Jesse Long, a young man who had been friends with our daughter since her divorce. He provided transportation when our vehicle was broken down and filled in the details of the final months of Stephanie’s life. Even though he said he had misgivings about viewing Stephanie’s body, he showed up with a sunflower, Stephanie’s favorite flower, in hand,

Spokane, you will likely forever be inscribed in my memory as a place of sadness and loss, but your generosity and your kindness shone a little light into a dark time.