This is a letter written to my dear friend Steven Gibb, former Program Director of Creative Health Institute, and creator of RawFriends.com.
As you may have heard, I've finished writing a book about you, and it is about to be published. Actually, it is not you in particular (although you may recognize yourself somewhere on its pages). It is about the bigger "you" -- the "you" I talked about in the 2004 campaign, the "you" who sustained us for those two years and who sustained me throughout all the valleys and peaks life has brought.
The book is called "Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers." I hope it is a tribute to the power that community can have in our lives. I know that I have been -- and I believe we all are -- always stronger and better when we let the strength of others help us. "Saving Graces" is about those connections and the support they've given me in my life.
I wanted to share "Saving Graces" with you before the book comes out -- next Tuesday -- because I know firsthand that some of the most important connections in our lives may not be face-to-face. I found them in the mail, on the phone, and -- as I describe in the book -- certainly through the internet.
I've been blessed with some amazing gifts in my life, but like most families, our family has faced some difficult challenges. Some have been very public; some have been very private. But whatever the challenge, I have never had to face it alone. Every step of the way, my relationships -- with family and friends, with strangers who have shared similar experiences, and with supporters and believers united in a common cause -- have given me strength and carried me through.
In my book, I write about what it was like to grow up in a military family, moving frequently and learning to make friends wherever we went. I learned, too, that a room of strangers is just a temporary condition, which can be cured by a smile and handshake and making the effort to find what we shared. The lessons of the support and comfort from my extended Navy family have been invaluable every day of my life. I write about the bonds we formed in the 1960s when young people across this country were opposed to the Administration's commitment to a war in Vietnam. I write about meeting John and marrying John, and the simple pleasures of exchanging favors with other parents and neighbors as we raised our family and built careers in Raleigh and Chapel Hill. And, of course, there's plenty to read about the privilege, responsibility, and even fun of a presidential campaign and about the thousands of incredible people we had the opportunity to meet.
I also discuss my fight against breast cancer -- especially the overwhelming support of the tens of thousands of people who made me feel like they were fighting beside me. They -- you -- wrote, emailed, prayed, and, in perhaps the greatest gift, shared personal battles against cancer and illness. I will never be able to thank them -- you -- enough, but this book is a start.
Finally, as hard as it was to write, there is no way I could write about the power of community in my life without writing about the death of our precious son, Wade. As many of you know, Wade died in a car accident in 1996. So many people reached out to us -- with compassion and love, of course, and often with their own stories of loss and grief. I cannot overstate what those connections meant to me. Their support and inspiration -- much of which came online -- will always be with me.
So this book is a thank you to all those who have made me stronger, and it is a message to anyone struggling to cope with the daunting challenges that life sometimes lays before us. Optimism was easy even in the face of obstacles because you believed in tomorrow and told me there would be brighter days ahead -- and you were right. Thank you for taking a moment to read this. And thank you for being a member of our community.