Every December 19th, my husband, Dean, and I stay overnight at a hotel in Lethbridge, Alberta. The following day Dec 20th marks a sad anniversary—the day our daughter, Charity, died. We found some peace year after year by meeting up with some of Charity’s good friends in Lethbridge for dinner and sharing our fondest memories. But this trip, our third, would be especially difficult.
Charity was the youngest of our three children. She was outgoing, funny, popular. She had bright blue eyes, shoulder-length locks of blond hair and a beautiful smile. She was an ambitious 21-year-old who loved to travel and cook and hang out with her best friends. Until that terrible night. Charity was killed in a car crash directly in front of our home. Our family was heartbroken.
We were thankful that Charity’s friends were there for us. Our overnight getaway didn’t erase the memories of that night, but her friends’ stories always made us smile. When they spoke, it was as if she briefly came back to life. Then, two years after Charity’s death, her good friend, Cody, died in a car accident. How could they be taken away from us so young, so quickly?
That night, during our annual meet with Charity’s friends, it seemed my emotions got the best of me. Back in the hotel room, we grieved for our daughter. Dean held me as I cried. “Lord, please give us peace. Give us a sign that Charity is okay,” I whispered.
The next morning, we prepared to check out. Dean grabbed our luggage and headed to the door. It’s easy to leave behind a phone or a watch, so I double-checked to make sure we had everything. I gave the desk a quick once-over. There was a card by the phone. Maybe Dean forgot his keycard?
I picked it up, but it wasn’t a keycard. It was a card from the hotel’s maid service. “Your room was cleaned with care by…” Scribbled in blue ink on the line below were two names.
The name of my daughter, and the name of her good friend.