Well, let me just start by saying the obvious: this was not a good year. Okay, you knew that. I don't want to belabor the tragedy of this year and wear the cloak of grief again. I've worn that enough. I've worn it out. I hate that cloak. A new friend of mine told me that too often we try to rush through grief. I don't think I rushed through anything. My son and I can attest that there have been far too many difficult periods.
Rather, I want to dedicate this Christmas letter to thank the people that reached out and helped Rob and me this year. From the very moment that tragedy struck and Sherri was taken from us, friends, family and long lost acquaintances reached out to help. The outpouring has been and still is astounding.
To my parents, brother and sisters, nephews and nieces. You dropped everything and you came to sit through the vigil as we waited to hear about Sherri. I will never forget the compassion you showed to Rob, Emily and me that day and continue to show.
To my close friends Scott and Thao. You arrived as soon as you heard and you spent many evenings since just being there to listen. You have both shown unending kindness and love to me and my family.
Lori Reisfelt, I am truly lucky to have you as a friend and you've been an empathetic heart that helped me through the really tough times that few can appreciate.
Amy Bode and Jacqui Crist, thank you for mobilizing the Team in Training friends and being a source of sympathetic support.
Dave Holmes-Kinsella, you came to help immediately and you tried diligently to get me back to a new normal. Thanks for reaching out with the dinner invitations and the the bike rides. I will always remember the ride up Tunitas Creek and that moment I realized the significance of that place. You responded with quiet compassion.
To all the friends of Sherri, me and my family. When I saw the SRO crowd at the church at Sherri's service, I was astounded at the faces from many times and places. You honored the memory of Sherri beyond words.
To the friends that took me to lunch and dinner, just to check up on me, like Merla, Barb, Chris, Aaron, Denise, Peggy, it meant a lot then and now.
Tom Cary your empathy and prayers have been a source of peace.
Pastor Mark Wollan, your concern and support were genuine and heartfelt. You went beyond your role as a minister and took a personal interest in supporting our family.
Mike Sale, I appreciate your weekly calls and your continuous efforts to take my money on the golf course.
Molly Sims, Janet Brown and Kimberly Wycoff thank you for the diversions and getting me in touch with new friends and acquaintances.
There are many more to thank and if I didn't name you, please don't feel slighted and I appreciate every act and every kind word.
The person that I owe the most to this year is my son, Robert. At least once a week we'd go out to dinner and we would talk about what our current experiences were. We would share how we were feeling and discuss the week ahead. We'd talk about Sherri. He doesn't realize that I can see her influence in him and it makes me proud of the son we raised.
This year Rob and I rode Foxy's Fall Century bicycle ride. At about mile 95, it struck me what I would miss. In the past when Rob and I would do a long ride like Foxy's, afterward I would tell Sherri how proud I had been watching him overcome the challenge of doing the ride. I would recount how he had no business finishing the ride but his own determination pushed him through. I told Rob this and that what I really missed, at that moment, was that sharing with Sherri. That ability to make new memories and share them, had been taken away. I wiped the tears from my weary eyes and we continued to ride in silence. Without saying a word, I knew he understood our loss and I knew he missed her too.
Despite the one overwhelming event, it was not entirely a bad year. There were many significant achievements too. At work my team received great kudos for pulling off a very successful customer conference. We generated more leads, reached more customers and executed more campaigns than any year prior. My son and I spent several Saturday afternoons cheering for the beloved Cal Bears football team, exhorting them to victory. While I didn't do the Death Ride, I successfully completed Solvang's Finest Century in November and, as I mentioned earlier, Rob and I completed Foxy's Fall Century in October. The highest point of the year was having the honor of being in my friends Scott and Thao's wedding. It was an exceptional moment from some exceptional friends.
The outreach of support also had unexpected benefits. I was able to meet and create new friendships. I also connected with people that I hadn't seen in many years. Like finding a rare treasure, we were able to unwrap our friendships and make up for lost time.
In case you didn't know, Rob is an excellent writer. He's continuing his studies and is trying to get accepted into San Jose State next fall. If you know anyone in the CSU system, maybe you can put us in contact with them. Anyway, one of his works was selected as a finalist for the annual DVC writing awards for fiction. He got a job for the winter as a sound and light technician for the local church. His writing and his job allow him to express his boundless creativity. I've read his assignments and I'm still astounded by his use of metaphors and his ability to write evocatively. He's not limited to writing fiction, he's also written scripts for his friend Thomas's videos that are equally as enjoyable.
As the holidays are here, though I am reminded about the losses, we do survive. We push on and know that there are joys and treasures in places we least expect. At Christmas, in particular, I think about what we have. I have been blessed by a lifetime of memories, the compassion of my friends old and new and the love of my family. And for that, I am grateful. Merry Christmas Steve