December 29th, 2004, was the night that I lost one of my closest friends: my dad, Thomas R. Chaney. He died peacefully in his own bed, surrounded by family and friends who cared so much about him. At last, his long struggle with cancer was over, and he was now in a place far above the clouds where he could watch over us until we joined him one day.
Being only 15 years old at the time, you can imagine that his death hit me pretty hard. I was swarmed with love and care by my family and friends, all of whom I am now closer with. But that was just the beginning.
We held a celebration of life for my dad at my church, Grace United Methodist Church, in Coshocton, Ohio, a week after he had passed away. I was surprised by the turnout; the large and sparsely populated pews were now filled, standing room only, with family, friends, and other people from the community, some whom I hadn’t seen before. There were so many people there that the guestbook had been filled about a half-hour before the service even started. After the service, my family and I tried our hardest to greet every single person who had attended, but some just nodded and went along their way. We knew they cared all the same, not to mention my family would’ve been there well into the night and probably the next morning. That day, I felt that not only did I have the support of my family and friends, but the support of an entire community who had come to know and love my dad for the kind, jovial person he was. And I felt so blessed to know that many of them would go home that night and pray for me and my family. This is why I believe that people can surprise you by showing just how much they care for others, and that the caring and kindness of a complete stranger is one of the best feelings we are meant to receive as humans.