Monday, March 21, 2011

In loving memory...

We lost an incredible soul last week. A man who was inspiring to all who were fortunate to know him. A man who was kind, generous, thoughtful, caring; the quintessential family man who excelled at all he did - from balancing a successful career with traveling the world, being an amazing father, loving husband, friend to everyone, star athlete (cycling, surfing, paddling and almost everything in between) . Mark Bixby, 44 - father, husband, friend, role model. You will be terribly missed.

I haven't been able to write anything since last week. I didn't really know what to say. If you grew up in Long Beach, there's a good chance you know who the Bixby's are, and sadly, you might have even known someone else on the small plane that went down at Long Beach Airport last Wednesday morning, killing 5 family-men with 1 survivor (Mike Jensen).

I was very fortunate to meet Mark & his beautiful fiance (at the time), Theresa, when I was around 12...they moved in next door to us. They introduced me to surfing and would take me down to Old Man's at San-O with their friends...I used to be sooo excited to drive down and spend time with them, I could hardly sleep the night before. They showed me how true love of the ocean becomes a lifestyle, and encouraged me to pursue outdoor activities...they had such passion for life & all that nature has to offer; always inspiring to me. I dreamed of someday being an adult, living the way they did.

2011 photo -

As years went on, they got married and had 3 beautiful children - Ryan, Kirra and Jessica. In highschool my close friends and I would babysit their darling little ones, and continued to admire their growing family...a close unit full of love. They maintained their lifestyle, full of activities with their children - traveling, surfing, water polo, soccer, snowboarding/skiing - and absolutely live life to its fullest. They've dedicated their lives to making their community a better place, and have given so much to everyone who is fortunate to know them.

Even if you have never met them, when you see a photo of the Bixby family, it truly speaks a thousand words. The kids always have their arms thrown around each other, Theresa has her hand rested on one of them or intertwined with the girls, and, whenever they are in a photo together, Mark is lovingly holding his wife. The love between their family is so evident, even in the most candid of shots.

As it often seems to happen, it's those who give so much to others and live beautifully and fully, whose lives are cut so short. Our hearts go out to the entire Bixby family, for I cannot even imagine the pain they are forced to endure right now. I know Theresa will be strong through this, and she will continue being the amazing role model that she has always been - for her family, her friends and her community. Mark will be forever missed but will live on through his beautiful children and the spirit and energy that he shared with everyone who knew him.