Thanksgiving is a time for all of us to reflect on the year, to appreciate what we have and to be thankful for the good things in our lives.
We get to spend time with family or spend the day helping to make it brighter for some who may not be as lucky as we are.
2017 has been a tumultuous year. There have been so many really terrible incidents that happened this year, it is hard to look back and find some things for which to be thankful.
I spent last night thinking about this and came up with a few that are noteworthy.
When I think about what happened this year, in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, I am thankful for all of the truly wonderful people who put their lives on the line to help others. I am thankful for their courage, their acts of selflessness in a time of great tragedy.
I am thankful for those in our little town, our state and our country who keep us safe from those who do us harm. I am truly thankful for not only law enforcement and the men and women serving in the armed forces who protect us and our freedoms, but for all emergency personnel who play a huge role in keeping us safe and helping us when we are in need.
E911 dispatchers, EMT and paramedics, emergency room nurses and physicians and our volunteer firefighters are all a part of the emergency services we are so lucky to have in our community.
As I thought about how to thank the people who are so important to our community, I received information that not only brightened a sort of dark day on Tuesday, but made me think about the role so many people played and are playing in our little community miracle.
This story starts a couple of months ago on a Friday night after a football game. I was on the phone with my friend and colleague Jay Davis, when a helicopter came over Mobridge at an alarmingly low altitude.
“What the hell Jay,” I remember saying. “I have never heard them come in that low.”
I didn’t know exactly what was going on at the time, but the information that I learned in the following days, was heartbreaking. Someone that I have known since I returned to Mobridge in 1993, had suffered a terrible medical situation and according to the grapevine, the prognosis was not a good one for a person who never failed to brighten my day whenever we crossed paths.
Belinda Voegele-Holzer had suffered an aneurism and was fighting for her life in a hospital in North Dakota.
The news was devastating. My heart broke for her family; Dave, Tucker and Emily, for her mom and dad.
I thought about the conversations we had at her children’s music concerts. We always talked about how the kids grew up too fast and how our lives were changing so quickly. She often reminded me that we had come a long way from me kicking her out of the Silver Dollar when I knew she wasn’t old enough to be in the establishment. We laughed about that.
I was crushed to think those conversations may never happen again and that I would not see that brilliant smile again.
Flash forward to Tuesday, Nov. 14, when I had a chance to sit with Shelly Hulm after she had spent a weekend with the Holzer family in Fargo.
I listened to Shelly telling me about Belinda’s progress and how she was talking, and working hard to get back to being Belinda. I walked away from that conversation so uplifted and positive.
A week later, on Tuesday, Nov. 21, there is more great news about her incredible progress that is making what could have been a story of tragedy into a story of strength and triumph.
I have been thinking about the doctors and nurses and emergency personnel who had a hand in getting Belinda where she needed to be to make this recovery possible.
I have thought about the right decisions made at the right time and those who knew and did what needed to be done.
These are our friends, our neighbors. It is these people who will be there, as they were there for Belinda, if we need them.
Belinda is making great strides, with the help of doctors, nurses and physical therapists. She is fighting to be back home with her family and among her friends, sooner than many of us ever thought possible.
So as we thank God for her recovery, we must also thank those who helped her at every step of this saga.
As we sit around the table on Thanksgiving let us take one moment to be thankful for the people who are part of our emergency networks.
They have an important role in all of our lives.
Happy Thanksgiving and hurry home Belinda!