Updated: Feb 12, 2021
There was a singular moment when my service to Sunset Valley hit its arch. It changed my perspective, attitude and heart for the work. It happened on Election Day, 2018--November 6. Please allow me to share the story with you.
On Sunday, November 4, 2018, a Sunset Valley family lost their 29 year old son to a tragic accident which was reported to me, as Mayor, in a standard manner via phone call. These types of reports from the Police Chief or City Administrator always left me feeling like an unworthy invader of personal information. I was completely struck with shock; did not know this Sunset Valley family personally; and did not feel it was appropriate to discuss the incident with anyone. There was a gaping hole of sadness for what another household was feeling that I could not begin to understand and there was nothing I could do to help them.
From my computer, I learned that this young man was a great son--a person with joy, drive and adventure--a brother--a student of Texas and a soldier of our Nation. He had served in Afghanistan, my country of birth and origin. He had recently celebrated a milestone of completion with service, education and a perfect job. Again, the gaping hole of sadness but now it felt even larger. How could this family possibly be dealing with such a loss? The disconnect and desire to reach out were equally frustrated; I wanted my neighbors to not have this loss. This man's life stands for everything an American and a Sunset Valley family should. He was someone I would never know and could not get out of my mind.
Two days later, I was at City Hall, November 6, 2018---Election Day. I witnessed the mother and father of this young man from across the main chamber hall. They were arm-in-arm in our City Hall. They looked like they had the weight of the world on their shoulders and yet they were there. They were voting. A wave of emotion and the moment of clarity hit: This is what it means to show up, serve and be a community. We do it silently but together for one another. If these two residents could make it into City Hall to vote two days after losing their own son who had shown up for his family, country and community---then what should each of us do?
I am forever reminded to show up: for that Sunset Valley family; for my neighbors; for my family; and to honor that one man. Thank you to that Sunset Valley family. I dedicate my eleven years of service to your son and that day you both chose to show up for your community.