There are a lot of people, all around the world, who have been ready to “say goodbye” to 2017 for quite some time.
I’m not one of them.
As excited as I am for 2018 to start – and I am VERY excited – I’m not all that enthused about ending what, in many ways, was my best year ever.
Why was 2017 so great for me?
I’m from a journalism background, so the 5 Ws and I H (Who, What, Where, When, Why and How) have been important to me for decades.
This year, however, was all about the 4 Fs: Faith, Family, Fraternity and Friendship.
It all begins, as I think it should, with Faith. Thanks to my own decision to “take a deeper dive” into my own Catholic faith over the past two years, my life has done nothing but get better as I’ve let “Jesus take the wheel.”
I’ve never really been all that comfortable talking about my faith. I believe what I believe, and I hope that others can, and will, decide to walk alongside.
But I’ve learned so much these two years by reading, listening, talking and just plain opening my heart to something – someone – far greater than myself.
As a result, the fire FOR my Faith has never been greater. And with a determination to dive in even deeper in the days, weeks and months to come, I expect that to continue.
Why do I expect that to continue? Well, Family is a big reason why.
My definition of “family” starts with the “blood” relatives we’re all blessed to have, and grows to include those we choose to share the most intimate parts of our lives with.
So, as much as there’s part of me that will always first be Svoboda, Waeckerle or Basile, there’s an equally growing part of me that is Post, Bartels and Faflick.
My parents were the first to introduce me to the idea of Faith, and they continue to be the greatest single example of what that faith can do. On January 5, they’ll celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary.
And through things both big and small – through tithing and ushering, through greeting and distributing communion – they continue to carve a path I can’t help but want to follow.
On January 11, just days after that anniversary, they’ll open a new chapter of their lives by moving into a gorgeous new apartment in Overland Park, and they’re even doing THAT with incredible love for one another and faith in their own future together.
My blood family also includes my younger siblings – Brian and Ruthie – who continue to demonstrate faith and love in more ways than I can count. Their loving families are something I envy, and their belief in their spouses and siblings is second to none.
I miss having Brian, Jill and Cori in the Midwest. That’s for sure. But knowing that the person who has been my best friend since his birth in October 1966 is just a phone call away is VERY comforting. And having the owner of the world’s best laugh just across town in Olathe is a blessing.
Brian and Jill have done a tremendous job with Cori, who is graduating from college in May. Damn, how did that happen? I was just rocking her in my favorite glider rocker days ago…or was that over 20 years ago?
And with Steve alongside, Ruthie has done a fabulous job of raising two kids in Henry and Abby that are smarter than this Uncle David (they have two Uncle Dave’s…ain’t they lucky??) ever could have hoped to be.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t include my Aunt Roberta and her family, and my Uncle Cy and his, as part of the group that makes me whole. It’s blood, but it’s way more than that.
There’s no common blood shared by me and those five incredible members of my “adopted” family, the Posts, but there’s a love there that is so deep it’s hard to adequately put into words.
In March 2015, Hunter came into my life through Delta Sig. In the weeks, months and years since then, Natalie, Mark, Trayton and Taryn (and Hunter’s girlfriend Carrie) have each carved out a place in my heart that will be theirs forever.
Hunter, Trayton and I now share a brotherhood – through Delta Sig – that’s to be shared for a lifetime. That bond is tremendous, but the love I have for each of them goes beyond fraternity. If I was to have sons of my own, I couldn’t possibly have created two young people this “perfect” in their own ways.
And in Natalie and Mark, I have a “second” brother and “second” sister that I’ve enjoyed the heck out of sharing time, laughter, tears and a heck of a lot of food and drink with over the past 15 months.
And then there’s Taryn, who would be just the kind of daughter I would have dreamed of having…just like her brothers would have been my dream sons. And Carrie fits that description, too!
Yes, I love me some Posts (and a Mulder).
And I love me some Bartels’, too.
Way back in what seems like eons ago, I was a groomsman in Dan and Rachel’s wedding. And then, like friends sometimes do, we fell out of touch.
But family has a way of finding its way back together, and I eventually found my way – first through DJ – back to Dan, Rachel, DJ, Stephen and Ashley.
There was a reason Dan and I first became friends in the late 1980s. He’s loyal and level headed, loving and prideful.
And he hasn’t changed. He’ll be the first to tell you, however, that Rachel is the glue that holds him, and his family, together. She’s great.
And DJ and Stephen join their dad, my brother Brian, Hunter and Trayton as my Delta Sig brothers. We’re one big, happy, Pyramid-loving group of YITBOSses.
Again, there’s a love from me toward DJ and Stephen that goes beyond fraternity.
And Ashley joins Taryn as someone who will always be someone I look out for as I would a daughter of my own.
Then there’s that Faflick guy. Nate isn’t attached to a family I’ve “thrust myself into”…at least not yet.
But there are very few people on planet Earth who will hug you like that guy will. You won’t find a more genuine, loving person than Nate. And again, though there are decades between us in age, I think of him as a brother, a son…as family.
And the third “F” – Fraternity – does not end with my blood brother Brian, the Post boys, the Bartels boys, or my buddy Nate. No, it just grows stronger and stronger by the day.
Men like Randy Withrow, Keith Ely, Kent Ely, Dave Ott, Brad Bodine, Rob Brune and countless others will ALWAYS be the backbone of my Delta Sig existence. But newer brothers like Pierce Stephens, Joey Wenberg, Mario Garcia, Matt Mindrup, Colby Works, Avery Bolar, and a group of “Rho Bros” will also be forever part of who I am.
Yeah, A LOT of these relationships – with family, and in the fraternity – did nothing but grow and get stronger in 2017.
And the friendships I have beyond fraternity – with those current and past work colleagues, with my former students and student-athletes, and with countless others – are all things that sustained me and helped me grow in the year gone by.
So, yes, there are LOTS of reasons I’m sad to see 2017 in the rearview mirror.
But each of the 4 Fs aren’t going anywhere, and as long as I have Faith, Family, Fraternity and Friendships, the date on the calendar won’t matter.
It’s the love that sustains me.
To each of you, thanks. And Happy New Year.