I love Canada Day and this year I was especially looking forward to the '150' celebrations. I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes down to it. Every Canada Day since I can remember I've dressed in red and white (and made the rest of the family dress appropriately, too!) and gone to a parade, a community BBQ, a festival in the park, or whatever else was happening in the community we happened to be in that year. I've had the privilege of living in a lot of different places and each town or city puts their own unique spin on their Canada Day celebrations.
Who can forget the community fish fry in Fort Smith, NWT? White fish from Great Slave Lake served hot to about 2000 residents. Yum! One of the most special Canada Days I ever experienced was the year we took our family to Ottawa - part of a cross Canada tour. It was amazing to be part of the crowd at the concert on Parliament Hill and see the fireworks over the Parliament buildings - things I had only ever seen on TV.
This year our plan was to travel to Fort St John, BC (about two hours from our home) to spend the day with our daughters and grandchildren. There were lots of special 'Canada 150' events planned and we wanted to share it with our family.
And then our plans were changed.
The Sunday previous our son was in a serious car accident on the Pine Pass. (A particularly winding section of highway in northern BC.) His injuries turned out to be minor, although he is still dealing with various aches and pains while waiting for plastic surgery on his face and nose, which were badly smashed. The driver wasn't so lucky. He died at the scene - the single dad of a 12 year old son.
Dan was our neighbour from directly across the street. We often bantered back and forth, borrowed each other's tools, and generally had a good time teasing one another. He was just that kind of guy. Always friendly and willing to lend a hand. In fact, he brought my son more than one meal while I was in the hospital in Vancouver this spring (another story entirely) and got my son a job working on a crew replacing old rail lines. They were on their way to work together when the accident happened.
My husband was asked to conduct Dan's funeral service, even though Dan had not been a church goer. They'd had enough conversations over the fence about God and spiritual matters that his family felt he was the only choice. The date they chose? July 1st.
Of course there was no way to refuse. We didn't want to refuse! Dan was a good neighbour and friend, and the fact that he was dead while our son survived, made us profoundly grateful.
We did manage to see some fireworks later that evening, but Canada 150 pretty much passed us by. In the end it was still a memorable day, although not for the reasons we had hoped. It brought into stark clarity how blessed we are, not only because we live in such a great nation, but because God is sovereign.