I've written two blog posts this month about Meg Cross Menzies, the young lady from our community who was killed recently when an alleged drunk driver hit her while she was jogging. Like many, the story stung me. In part because I'm a dad who can't imagine my wife eating breakfast with my two boys and me in the morning and being gone forever before dinner. It's in part because part of my work in our community is to bring awareness to the dangers and tragedies associated with drinking and driving. I partner on many of those efforts with Sergeant Scott Menzies, Meg's husband, and his fellow officers at the Ashland Police Department. And I wrote the posts in large part because this blog is about living a life of gratitude.
There are times I write about things where gratitude would seem hard to find, with hopes I might find it in my words. I have to admit, in writing about the tragedy that has invaded the lives of the Menzies and Cross families, I've been able to recount many beautiful ways Meg Menzies touched the lives of those she left behind, and project some good that might come from her death, as much as everyone would rather that good come from somewhere else, but for the most part I've struggled to find gratitude.
I've come to find out I wasn't going to find gratitude in my writing; it was going to find me.
My wife, Katie, came to find me this week to tell me that Scott Menzies was at our door. My heart began racing. I had no idea what I'd say to him. The last time we talked it was mostly about family. Since then he'd lost a large part of his; mine was still intact. There's something uncomfortable about that. Something impossible to understand. Something difficult to come face to face with.
Scott was standing in our doorway when I came out. He looked strong and composed, as brave as I pray I would look in his shoes. I gave Scott a hug and uttered the most useless words in the english language: I'm sorry. Don't get me wrong, they're words that need to be said - they help - it's just we often say them in response to things we wish we could undo, fully aware those words have never found it within themselves a way to undo a single thing. If not useless, they are at best sadly inadequate.
Before I could find more meaningful words to share, Scott spoke. He told me he'd read my blog posts about Meg's death and he wanted to stop and say thank you. He said the posts had touched him and his children and his family. It was clear to me his gratitude was from the heart.
"Thank you" may be the opposite of "I'm sorry" on the usefulness scale. It let's us know that although we can't undo the things we'd like to, someone knows we surely would if we could. It let's us know that someone who has every right to hide from a world that has dealt him an unfair blow is out there embracing it in gratitude. I got the distinct impression I wasn't the only stop Scott had made that day. I have a feeling he's on a bit of a thank you tour. Not out of any sense of obligation, but out of an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the support he's received from so many in his local community and the world beyond.
I'm a strong believer in the power of gratitude, yet it can be so hard to see in times of loss. How do you count blessings when at a glance they seem to be disappearing. You have to have faith that somewhere beyond your hurt they are still mounting. Scott Menzies stood in our doorway this week recognizing one very small blessing in a sea of them. More than that, though, the importance he placed on acknowledging it left a lasting impression on me. In our doorway are the footprints of a reminder that there never comes a time in life to stop counting blessings, to stop thanking the people contributing to our lives. I've let some very petty by comparison problems in my life lure me into looking at life with an ungrateful spirit. Thanks for the reminder, Scott, that the way we look at life determines it's direction.
On a final note, I need to add that in that same doorway remains the faint image of an angel I sensed was holding Scott's hand, offering strength to his words, and maybe throwing in a few appreciative words of her own for a community of megsmiles supporters who continue to bring strength and love to those who miss her most.