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Today, I am thankful.

Ten years ago, I was home from college for the weekend to see friends and go to my high school's Christmas musical. I was downstairs in my bedroom when my mom came in to ask me if I felt okay. "Dad can't stop throwing up," she said, "and I'm worried it might be food poisoning." None of us were sick, so they figured it was just a bug. Dad went to sleep, hoping whatever was ailing him would pass by morning.

He's lucky to have survived the night.

When he didn't feel better the next day, Mom took him to urgent care. When the doctors began to suspect what was really wrong with him, things started to happen fast. He was transferred to one hospital and then taken by ambulance to another on the University of Minnesota campus, with my poor, panicked mom following behind, getting lost, and calling us frantically to help her navigate to the hospital (this was well before the days of iPhones and GPS). He underwent scans and tests and then Mom heard a scary, scary phrase: brain aneurysm.

It turned out that he had an aneurysm on the right side of his brain that had sprung a leak. It was near his vomit control center (that is apparently an actual medical term) which is why he had been so sick. And he, and we, were very, very, very lucky that the whole thing had leaked instead of just rupturing.

Because if it had? That would probably have been it for my dad. I wouldn't have had him proudly tearing up as he watched me sing or give speeches at my sorority formals. He wouldn't have been at my side at UND hockey games or biking the MS 150. I wouldn't have had him cheering me on as I graduated from college or when I got into law school. My husband wouldn't have been able to ask him for my hand in marriage. And I wouldn't have had my dad to walk me down the aisle.

The next morning, my dad underwent emergency surgery to place a coil inside the aneurysm and prevent it from rupturing. He eventually made a full recovery. Thankful.

In the days and weeks that followed, I was blown away by the outpouring of love and care we received from those around us: the meals, the cards, the calls, but also the bigger things. Like the family friends who brought a Christmas tree into our house and put it up in our living room while my mom was at the hospital. I was back at school finishing my finals, but my mom told me that she and my younger sister, upon discovering the tree, had simply laid under it, exhausted, and just cried and cried. Or my bff who worked at the hospital and went into the operating room to check on my dad's progress during his initial surgery and kept us apprised of all hospital-related matters. And all of the love we got when he had to have a follow-up surgery a year later.

I can't imagine life without my dad and I am so, so, so glad I don't have to.

So today, I am thankful.
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