I am not thankful for the tragedies I have experienced. The first came when I was almost 21 years old. My best friend’s brother and my date to our senior banquet (we didn’t have proms at the Christian school I attended – another thing I’m not thankful for), was shot and killed.
I am not thankful that my good friend Debbie dropped dead two years ago next week, leaving behind two beautiful daughters who will always have an empty place in their hearts as they move through high school, college and the milestones in their lives.
I am not thankful that my carpooling, chai-drinking buddy Angie drowned with her 5 year old daughter Indu (the same age as my youngest daughter at the time) in the Pacific Ocean.
I am not thankful for the loss of these friends. They each made such an amazing mark on the world and the world is lesser for their absence. My world is lesser for their absence and their loss threatened to destroy any shred of happiness and meaning for their close family members.
I am thankful for the way that each of these deaths awakened my heart to the depth of pain in this world. I am thankful that I was able to grow closer to others in our shared grief over each of these deaths. I am thankful that they broke the illusion, so common in American culture, that we can control our lives and our destinies. I am thankful for the way the experiences of these deaths have allowed me to be with those who have suffered great loss without flinching. I am thankful for the brilliant and beautiful friendships with Tim, Debbie and Angie that give me determination to find the sparkle of gratitude in the darkest moments of my life.