Friday, October 28, 2011

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 5

Today’s entry on thankfulness is a little different. One year ago tonight, my husband Herb and I were out to dinner with a friend, and when we arrived home there was a garbled message on the answering machine from my brother-in-law’s phone number. It was an unfamiliar voice, and the words we could pick out were “Glen” (my brother-in-law), “heart attack”, and “hospital”. Herb immediately called back and the phone was answered by Glen’s work colleague, Rob, who sadly informed us that Glen had suffered a sudden heart attack and had passed away minutes before. I will never forget my husband’s voice as he hung up the phone, turned to me, and said, “Tell me that did not just happen.” It was the most horrible and stunning thing that has ever happened to me.

So how can I be thankful on such a sad anniversary? How can I look at the faces of Glen’s wife and daughters and be thankful?

I can be thankful that Glen was a devoted husband, father, son, brother, and uncle. I can be thankful that he raised his daughters to be strong and independent enough to weather such a hard blow at such a young age. I can be thankful that his wife was and is strong enough to take charge of her family, to lean on the support of her extended family, and to be brave enough to start fresh in a new place.

I can be thankful for the few years I had to know him. I can be thankful that I heard him laugh, and sing, and play the guitar. I enjoyed the hospitality of his home, and he enjoyed the hospitality of mine. I had the joy of watching him play with my son. I had the pleasure of benefitting and learning from his gourmet taste in food and wine. And I had the pleasure of knowing that he recognized how much I loved his brother, and that he appreciated it.

So as much as my heart breaks that he was taken away so young, I will be thankful for the life he lived, and for the legacy that he leaves in the form of his two beautiful daughters.

And so the three “things” that I am thankful for today are not things, but people: Glen’s family, his wife Pauline and his daughters Valentine and Emma. I am thankful that they are happy and well. I am thankful that they are part of my family, although they are far away. And I am thankful that they are, and always will be, part of Glen.

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