Last Tuesday, my first book was published. We had a launch party full of great food and laughter and families gathered. It was wonderful. And a big reason it was wonderful was the Shakespear family. Erin is a beloved member of the TTOF family and one of my closest friends, and she recruited her husband Ryan and their six children to help out.
Ryan showed up with a ladder and his signature cowboy hat and helped hang stars from the ceiling. He was steady and strong, kind and thoughtful, as I always knew him to be. He laughed and played with his kids. He helped in ways large and small, without fanfare or recognition. When the night was over and the crowd was gone, we spoke. He congratulated me on the book, and I thanked him for sharing his wife and his beautiful family with me for the night. He smiled and said, “They are pretty great.” And I agreed.
One week later, Ryan passed away in a hiking accident, leaving behind that beautiful family. He was one of the most selfless, kind, involved fathers I have known. He was a supportive husband and he and Erin were truly best friends. My heart breaks for them.
One line from the book that keeps coming to mind is this:
Remember this truth: You are not alone.
These are the words in my heart right now–words I want to share with Erin. There will be great needs over the coming days and weeks and years, and I am here. This is what friendship looks like, and I know that because of the kind of friend you have been to me. The world is a better place because you are in it, and because of that handsome cowboy who walked by your side. I love you, Shakespear family. You are not alone.
For anyone who wishes to contribute to the Shakespear family, here’s one way to help. And please, hold your loved ones close today.