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Walking Our Faith: Thank you for your support

Thank you. Those two words went through my mind frequently during Mom’s hospital stay at Saint Anthony Summit Hospital and in the weeks that followed — during her hospice journey and through her passing last Wednesday. I felt enormous gratitude and thanks to the people who make up this community.

There has been a lot of discussion about the problem of affordable housing and how to balance that with those who want to buy second homes and use them as vacation rentals. It’s a complex issue.

My experience over the past five weeks of Mom’s life brought up a side of the argument that is not often discussed: What does it mean to create and sustain a community?



I live in a quiet neighborhood, Alpine Breck, where I’m happy to say there are far more trees than people. However, for the second time in seven years, the home that I rent is being sold. With current prices, it’s impossible for me to buy a home, so I can only hope to find another long-term rental for myself and my two large Newfoundland dogs.

I have written often about my experience of moving to Breckenridge and how I was embraced by the church communities of Saint Mary’s Catholic Church and Saint John’s Episcopal Church.



In the past, I used my experience as an example of why it is so valuable to attend church on a regular basis. Not only for our spiritual health but because church can be the place from which we grow our community roots and form relationships that touch every part of our lives throughout the week, not just for an hour on Sunday.

This idea was proven over the weeks of my mother’s hospice journey. I received countless emails, text messages, phone calls, plants and visits from pastors, priests and friends who wanted to support Mom and me during our last journey together.

One of Mom’s biggest concerns was if I would be OK after she died. After she joined me in Breckenridge and seeing the community of friends I have here, Mom said she no longer worried about my life after her passing.

I agree with Mom’s assessment. Yes, my heart is broken. Over the past week, there have been a dozen times when I looked up from the stove where I was cooking to share a funny anecdote with Mom or when I wanted to pick up the phone and call her. That’s been the hard part.

But the good part has been the gentle friends who were willing to send text messages back and forth when I felt unable to talk on the phone for the first week, or the friend who came and sat in my living room and just listened while I cried.

My heart is full for Lauren, Laura, Kate and Laurie from Bristlecone Health Services, who generously helped me and Mom through every step of the hospice journey.

I’m grateful to Father Boguslaw of St. Mary’s and Charlie Brumbaugh, the rector of St. John’s, who spoke with Mom and prayed with her and held her hand even when she could no longer speak.

I’m grateful for my PEO sisters, who sent emails and cards; for my prayer shawl knitting group, who sat with me on Zoom; and for the St. Mary’s evening prayer group; who prayed with me and for me and Mom.

I’m grateful for Joyce Mueller and Maggie Ducayet and Pat Hoogheem, and especially for Natalie Boyer, who helped me clean my apartment before Mom came home from the hospital, so we could make room for her hospital bed in the living room.

I’ve lived alone all my life, apart from the years when Mom and I lived together. This Summit County community is the first place where I have felt at home — where I have made deep and lasting friendships rooted in my faith and in my interests.

It’s a place where I know the names of people who work where I buy my groceries and pick up my mail. It is a place that still feels like a small town for those of us who live here year-round.

I don’t know if I’ll call Breckenridge home after July, or whether — like so many other locals — I’ll simply be priced out of Summit County. But as the debate over affordable housing and short-term rentals goes on, I hope we consider what makes a town a community. The locals who make up this community have made my life and my mother’s life so much better because we lived here.

I want to say, “Thank you so much.”


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