Monday, December 2, 2013


So much about the last several weeks has been unexpected.

Not the least of which was the unexpected visit from the police on October 23 informing my husband and oldest daughter of the death of the youngest member of our family the night before. Or the unexpected call I then got at work from my husband informing me of the same. 

Immediately, there were unexpected people standing there beside me, hugging me, doing unexpected generous and caring things in unexpectedly kind and thoughtful ways. People we thought barely knew us rallied around us - all of it unanticipated - we were never alone, never without support, never without the prayers and love of people near and far. 

There were unexpected reconciliations in relationships that seemed to happen almost unbidden. Family relationships, work relationships, church relationships. 

There were the unexpected gifts we received: food, friendship, finances, fellowship - each one bowling us over with implicit messages of caring, of concern, of compassion. 

Her friends "friended" me. They ask about how I'm doing. They show that they care. My family got a whole lot bigger. All unexpected. 

There were the condolences. The flood of people who came to the wake (okay, for those where I grew up that means visiting hours, not an Irish wake!) to hug us, to cry with us - from every facet of our lives, and some we hadn't seen in over a decade. The folks we didn't expect, who attended the funeral. Those who took their sparklers and lit them that night ... and made a video to put on Facebook to show that they honoured their best friend. The father of the young man who was a passenger in her car that night sent condolences on behalf of himself and his son. He let us know how the young man was doing; we heard his pain at his son's anguish in those words. He didn't have to contact us. It was unexpected. The card we got from someone in Ontario who used to go to youth group with her, telling us it was a joy to know her.

Getting every last morsel of icing off the
candles of her birthday cake - 2012

People we didn't know in Alberta contacted us. RCMP people, insurance people, coroner's office people. As professional as they had to be, they were also compassionate, sensitive, and kind. They still are. The medical examiner called our house Friday night to let us know the results of his report. He could have waited until we received it in the mail, but he wanted to let us know personally and as soon as possible, that alcohol was not a factor in the crash. That was unexpected.

And most recently, just in today's mail we received something that the RCMP in Wetaskiwin, Alberta had received and forwarded to us. It was a sympathy card, with heartfelt condolences inside ... from the family who was in the van that was struck that night - a mother and two of her children. Yet all their names were listed, and the names of those who were in the vehicle underlined. We'd been told that the mother's back was broken - that thankfully there was no paralysis. There was every reason for her to be resentful. Yet there was no tone of anger or of blame. Only sadness that our daughter "didn't make it."


And humbling. The overwhelming, overarching feeling we have as each piece fits together in this crazy jigsaw puzzle, is one of gratitude. There is so much that could have happened, which didn't. We've had to rethink a lot of things, redefine a lot of words.  Miracles abound - they started happening the very day we heard ... and they continue to this very day.  

And all around us, people are lifting us up, letting us talk, and welcoming us into their hearts. We are loved. And astounded.

And even these words are not enough to describe it all. And neither are the following words, but with all my heart, I'm saying them anyway.

Thank you.

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