On Thanksgiving Monday (Canadian Thanksgiving), 31 years ago, my Dad passed away from a genetic heart condition. Just like that. One minute he was alive, having fun with family & friends -- and the next minute he was gone.
I don't remember that, of course; I was only 9 months old at the time. But I think about it often -- and especially on Thanksgiving weekend.
You might think that an event such as that -- occurring on Thanksgiving Day no less -- would make it hard to enjoy future Thanksgivings. That it would cloud the day, making it difficult to think about being thankful when it is the day that makes me remember my Dad was taken from me forever. Without ever being given the opportunity to get to know him.
And yes, there are times when I still grieve the loss. Not the loss of memories of course -- but the loss of opportunity. And I often imagine how my life might have been different if he had lived. What new siblings I might have had, what different life situations I would've been in. I likely would have grown up in a different city -- quite probably even a different province. Gone to different schools, had different friends, married a different husband, given birth to different children. Or perhaps there would be no husband and no children. Maybe I would've been a more career-driven young woman, living independently.
But rather than choose to dwell on the "what if's"...I choose to thank God for the reality that my life is. And it all started with my Mom marrying her second husband. Some of you might not know this about me -- but I am a total Daddy's girl. There is nobody else that I admire and respect more than my Dad. His opinions matter the most to me out of anybody else's. When I see his eyes sparkle with pride and love towards me, it is the best feeling in the world.
My mom remarried when I was still very young -- young enough that I don't have memory of it happening. So right there is a blessing. The man who raised me is the only man I know as my father. There are no comparisons, no feelings of not being his 'real' daughter.
The second blessing: My siblings. I had one older sister at the time of my Dad's death. After my Mom remarried, I automatically had a second older sister. And a few years later, it was my turn to be a big sister when my little brother was born into the family.
I love my blended family. I love that we are one of those stories that turn heartache into something beautiful. Two family's tragedies (my Dad was a widower himself) that God turned into one family full of love.
As for the rest of my life...schooling, friends, husband, and children -- I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I really did have a very blessed childhood, and I continue to live a very blessed life. Yes, I'm sure I would've been happy and blessed had I grown up with my biological Dad at the helm...but rather than dwell on what could've been, I'm more than content to focus on what is. I don't like to think about not having Les and the girls in my life. About not having my best friends walking beside me through thick and thin.
It may have been a tragic Thanksgiving 31 years ago -- but God has shown on countless occasions that He is faithful and that He is good.