From the editor: A long overdue ‘thank you’
It’s taken me a year to write this column. On the 6th of every month for the past 12 months, I have tried to put my feelings into words and failed. But as I marked the one-year anniversary of my husband Mike’s plane crash, the right words finally came to me, and I want to say “thank you” to this community for wrapping its collective arms around me during the past year.
In my eight and a half years as editor of Steamboat Pilot & Today, we have had to cover too many tragic deaths. In our reporting, we try our best to honor the memory of the person who has died, and we often report on the community’s response to these losses. Time and time again, I have witnessed the residents of Steamboat Springs and Routt County rallying together to help someone in need. It’s one of the qualities that makes this community so special, and I never imagined I might one day be on the receiving end of that love and generosity of spirit.
Since the morning of Oct. 6, 2020, when I got the news of Mike’s death, I have felt incredibly supported by so many. In those first days, people showed up at my house with meals, dropped off sweet gifts and cards, left flowers on my front porch and simply let me know they were there if I needed them. Some of you sat with me as I cried, and others kept me close in your prayers and thoughts. I truly felt all of that love and support, and it gave me the strength to somehow get through those early days when I felt so lost and alone.
Others of you raked my leaves, invited me to dinner, cleared my driveway of snow and came to my rescue as I learned to take care of things Mike used to handle — fixing a back door that suddenly stopped shutting all the way, helping me turn my irrigation system back on after making sure it was blown out in the winter, walking Pilot when I had a busy day at the newspaper and making sure I didn’t spend Valentine’s Day alone. The acts of kindness are too many to individually mention, and collectively, they kept me going because they made me realize I wasn’t alone but surrounded by a host of people who cared about me and would come to my rescue when I needed them the most.
I also want to thank my work family for hanging in there while I have learned to navigate a new and very different life. I could not have made it through this past year without your support. You gave me space to grieve, you stepped up and filled in for me when you needed to, and you checked in with me regularly if you sensed I was having a rough day. Above all, we were able to continue to work together to create impactful journalism, which gave me purpose and a reason to get out of bed every morning.
In the midst of my grief, I discovered that I was still able to feel gratitude, and that feeling was my emotional lifeboat. That sense of gratitude grew from the outpouring of love I received from this incredible community, and for that, I will be forever grateful.
Mike was an amazing man who embraced life. His death was sudden and unexpected, and it shattered me, but I find comfort in the fact that he died doing something he loved. He never let fear control him, and as a result, he accomplished amazing feats during his 57 years on this Earth.
Just a few days after his plane crash, I was out walking Pilot around the Silver Spur trail as the sun rose and the darkness began to brighten toward day with brilliant shades of pink and orange streaking the sky, and I was inspired to write this post on Facebook: “The sun rises each morning and offers you the gift of one more day on this beautiful Earth. Embrace it, do something hard, do something kind, don’t let fear paralyze you. If you have a big dream go for it, don’t wait for everything to be perfect and don’t let anything stand in your way. And most importantly love those around you deeply and passionately. That’s what Mike would tell you because that’s how he lived his life.”
So with those words, I thank this beautiful community for loving, supporting and encouraging me during the past year. Your acts of kindness will never be forgotten.
To reach Lisa Schlichtman, call 970-871-4221, email lschlichtman@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @lschlichtman.
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