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On Thursday, the alarm awoke me with music. With the first note, I recognized her voice. With the second, I knew. With the next, a sob convulsed, then immobilized me. Aretha Franklin was gone.

Her power and grace moved me. They were given forth, spread outward, generous. Her spirit was uplifting and accessible.

Aretha, whose power inspired joy and love, whose greatness was worn with grace.

I expected to be sad, but not grief-stricken. Lack of sleep and too little clean air to breath in recent days could be heightening my emotions.

But it’s more than that. The air is foul in other ways.

I am grieving for the ongoing and intentional dismantlement of the notion of generosity. Where great power is wielded to inspire fear and hate. Where compassion is for suckers. Where honesty and honor are dismissed as weaknesses. A world where commercial interests in Hawaii last November declared “Thanksgetting.” Yes, really.

Thank you, Aretha. We need more than ever the continued inspiration of your generous spirit. Pass it on.

Sandra West, Shoreline