Angel from Santa Fe

As Matthias and I were writing our last Christmas letter, we were praying for our great plans for 2012 to come true. We were about to apply for a one-year sabbatical in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

So imagine how happy we all were when our project was accepted late January!

Matthias was to write several scientific papers, collaborate with Craig Allen, a brilliant and friendly forest scientist from Santa Fe, finish his habilitation thesis and improve the Swiss forest monitoring program through contacts with a similar program in the US. I would also work for our research institute but with a reduced workload, which would give me time for new creative opportunities and personal development. Hannah would enter 8th grade and Marie 6th grade; upon our return to Switzerland she would then repeat 6th grade, thus reducing to one year her advance.

In February we spent 10 days in Santa Fe scouting for a private school and a furnished house. We found both within walking distance from each other. Hannah and Marie felt at home at the Santa Fe Girls School right on their first visit. We all could not believe how lucky we were to be soon spending a whole year here.

The highlights of the spring were Hannah’s performance in the title role of Momo, a cult youth novel adapted for the stage by her middle school’s theater group. The premiere took place on Hannah’s 13th birthday – what greater present could she have dreamt of? We then spent a week in southern Italy visiting Pompeii and Matera, an ancient town famous for its houses dug into the calcareous rock, and where both Pasolini’s The Gospel according to St. Matthew and Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ were filmed.

Most of you have been following this blog. You know how many opportunities for sportive, cultural and nature-oriented activities we explored, and how much fun we had during our 3000-mile camping trip to Colorado. When Matthias travelled twice back to Switzerland for several weeks in fall, you witnessed how much we enjoyed our temporary threesome.

On October 31, this threesome became a permanent reality as our life changed forever. We are very grateful for the amazing support we have received in Switzerland and in Santa Fe. However, grieving is a lonely process that often takes its toll on my energy. Especially during this year’s Advent, I want to try and save as much time and peace as possible for the girls and for myself. So please don’t take it personally if I don’t reply to all messages.

Hannah, Marie and I have been taking baby-steps learning to acknowledge Matthias’ death and to adjust to it. Each moment during which we enjoy doing something, wonder about something, smile or even laugh are stepping stones that help us cross the sea of sorrow that lies before us. We find great comfort in the certitude that Matthias is now with his Creator. He was a wonderful husband and father, and we still feel his presence as our guardian angel.

We pray that 2013 will bring health, peace and joy to each of you.

God bless you and Merry Christmas!

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