A Bittersweet Anniversary

Dad in his happy place.

Dad in his happy place.

Today is the two-year anniversary of this blog and ugh…what a bittersweet anniversary it is. For those who don’t know me personally and haven’t heard, my 58 year old father, Craig Schiffer, was killed in an avalanche while skiing in Val Turens, France on Monday. I am devastated. Even after a long week of repeatedly facing this harshest of realities, it is all quite surreal, and will probably continue to be that way for a while. I oscillate between feeling totally numb to feeling sick and stricken, wanting to rail against the situation until it just goes away. My dad would want me to be strong, though, so I am doing my best in his honor, and for the sake of my amazing, freakishly tough stepmother and four beautiful siblings. I am so thankful, at least, to be surviving through this nightmare with them–we have always been super close, and this will only increase that tenfold. That would thrill my Dad and I know he is looking down on us with pride from whatever strange union of heaven and hell he has created for himself (he was a passionate man and a control freak–there is no way he’d simply choose one or the other).

This is not by any means my ultimate tribute to my father–there is so much I want and need to say. However, I am waiting to share most of those special thoughts at his service, as well as allowing myself this time to just be…to let these important remembrances come together over time. Like he would, I want them to be perfect, and while that may be impossible, he is certainly worthy of the attempt.

My dad was one of my biggest fans and most avid supporters, and I really cannot put into words how much that meant to me. We were incredibly similar in a lot of ways, which in any relationship is both a blessing and a curse, but my love and adoration of him was fierce and never-ending. Everything I write from now on will be in his honor and I so hope to continue making him proud–to always push myself, to always run towards the fears rather than away from them and to shamelessly live my life to the fullest. He did all of that with more verve than anyone else I know and it was infectious to even the meekest folks in his orbit. Craiggy, we have all taken that torch out of your hands and will do everything in our power to carry it through to the finish.


This is the most current obituary, though we will be putting our own in the NY Times this weekend. And I am collecting photos and remembrances of him here.

9 replies »

  1. Jess – my thoughts, to add to your collection. My condolences to you all. I am having a hard time figuring all this out and can only imagine your sorrow. He WOULD have loved that headline – if only it had read “…at 83”.

    We have met a few times but your Dad talked about you so much, sometimes in anguish and frustration but always from a deep sense of love and caring. I know how much he cared and the time and energy he spent helping you out in the tough times. I had a beer with him a couple of weeks ago and we got caught up a little. We talked about all five of you. I always asked and he was always happy to share. He said you had reached a point where he thought you could take care of yourself – that the time was right. Sadly prescient. I am sure you will honor that expectation. I loved your instagram exchange about the biking.

    Your Dad “got” people. Sometimes they did not always reciprocate. Your Dad had an amazing ability to irritate you (he would have said aggravate) and make you love him at the same time. When I met him 15 years ago, he saw me as what he referred to in business as an “adult” and trusted me, gave me more and more responsibility and gave me a huge career boost. He cared deeply about his employees and colleagues. He cared about managing people well and treating them right.He was frustrated by “bad guys”. He would help people at his own cost. He expected great things from me and I was proud to be able to deliver.

    We had a business together for four years. It was not as successful as we hoped but we both agreed we could not have gone on to do what we did subsequently without it. We stayed connected and tried to help out however we could. He got whatever advice he needed from me about things he needed to help figuring out. We trusted each other in a way that is rare in our business. He was always ready to try to make connections for me and my business. He was generous always.

    This is a work in progress – I have much more to say but I have to take a break….

  2. Continuing: Craig prized action above deliberation. Overthinking was not a weakness. He sought opinions, took advice, decided and moved to action. Sometimes wrong but never in doubt. It drove me crazy sometimes. He did listen, though and was always striving to be better. Over the years I worked with him, he changed his MO, became more considered, strategic, upgraded his skills. The last few years have been tough professionally. The recipe has not been so easy to find. Craig has evolved considerably, reinvented himself, never prepared to concede that he was a limiting factor on his ability to progress.

    Craig had an amazing ability to draw you into helping him solve his problems (Craig, I am not your IT bitch, scheduling assistant, HP12C). If you had skills, he used them!

    How about exercise? Obsessive? I have shown up at the gym at 6AM to find Craig lying on an exercise mat with a towel over his face – sleeping. Another hour in bed? Maybe skip the gym for more sleep that day? Not so much! The drive and intensity was sometimes overwhelming, sometimes unnecessary but goals were never missed for lack of trying. Craig was 110% every day with everything that needed his attention. Relentless, force of nature.

    Caring but not cuddly. Ready to laugh but not lighthearted. There was angst and suffering. I often accused him of relishing suffering, embracing struggle as pastime, seeking crisis so he could calm it.

    There were so many things about Craig that left you simply shaking your head. How could he say that/do that/get away with that/possibly expect that could work/happen? There were contradictions, pathologies, complexities. I learned to take them all and simply work with them because the sum of all these things was a huge force for good in my life and the life of those whose lives Craig touched.

    More to come….

  3. My deepest condolences on your enormous and bitterly sudden loss. My father was killed when I was ten; I grieve for him still, but it does soften with time. Lisa Winkler sent me your link. I look forward to reading more of your work. (( Hugs )) and sincere empathy to you and your family.

  4. Oh my goodness. My condolences.

    Somehow, WordPress decided I didn’t need to be following your blog anymore. So today I was wondering where all the posts had gone, and came back. Only to find I’d missed A LOT. Including a really difficult life event.

    Basically, I’m sorry this comment is so late.
    I can’t even imagine what you’re going through.
    But, remember that if you ever feel alone or like giving up, there’s this chick in Iowa who writes a blog who is rooting for you and sending good wishes your way!

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