This week our family received a Christmas card in the mail. It was from a family that I personally have not met. My daughter and wife have met them, but only once. The circumstances which led to the connection of our families, however, I would not wish on anyone, for it was the death of their youngest daughter that brought us together.
Opening the Christmas card, I began to read as tears welled up in my eyes. The personal note written inside was for my daughter, Amanda, who had, in a short time, become their daughter, Giselle's, best friend. They were in the same dorm at college, bonding quickly and as deeply as two friends can. My wife and I learned about Giselle from Amanda as she regularly talked about her, posted pictures of their experiences, and generally raved about what a great friend she was. It was Giselle that made the first two quarters of college for Amanda an experience she would treasure for life. I won't go into the details of the story, but unimaginable tragedy struck one weekend in April of this year when Giselle passed away from a sudden, accidental death. Just like that, a wonderful, inspirational, loving and beloved child was gone.
It was at the memorial service that Wendy and Amanda got to meet Giselle's family. It was a wonderful experience for Amanda, as she got to hear from Giselle's parents how much Amanda meant to her, and to them as well. The memorial for Giselle, though difficult, was inspirational, celebrating how she touched so many lives in her short time here. Though our hearts hurt for their family, how they have used Giselle's memory to uplift and inspire others is remarkable.
Surprises can be a wonderful thing, especially when one is surprised by a blessing. That’s what I consider this Christmas card to be. Out of immense pain and loss, a family has looked beyond their own grief and has reached out to bless those who knew and loved Giselle. I cannot imagine how difficult this first holiday season without their daughter is for them, yet they have taken the time to reach out to us and write words of encouragement to Amanda. And because of it, our family has experienced an unexpected blessing. It is one I shall never forget. My hope is that in whatever circumstances I find myself in that I can still bless others in some way. And if it surprises them, it's even more fun.