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I met Syndea in November of 2000, when she joined our small, merry little tribe at Doc of Rock in Napa. She was there to help with the holiday rush, and to study body piercing. Syndea was petite and lovely, with long strawberry blonde hair and a quick smile. For the first couple of weeks she stayed quietly watchful, and we all thought she was shy. The first time we hung out after closing up the shop for the night we learned just how wrong we were. She was a lot of things, but shy? Not one bit.

It wasn’t long before we were hanging out after work nearly every night, talking, drinking, listening to music. Eventually we formed a loose group made up of a few of us from the shop, a bunch of guys who lived down the street from Syndea, and Syndea’s older sister and her friends. Syndea was the center, the whirlwind; she brought us together and kept things interesting. By Spring of the next year she was one of my best friends. We told each other about our lives, our joys and our sorrows. We shared our secrets. She played matchmaker, and it’s her fault that X and I ended up on the long path to our love. She had personal struggles, there was so much heaviness in her past. And eventually this led to her leaving our shop. She moved to Santa Rosa, and later she left California to head north, landing in Ellensburg, Washington. I missed her mightily, she was no longer a friend, she was a sister. Every once in a while I’d get a phone call at 1 am and I’d sneak out of bed (trying not to wake X) stand in my kitchen and we’d tell each other our troubles, or share our victories.

She had a son, a big gorgeous boy with a huge smile and her flair for the dramatic. She came home a few times then, visiting her family in Napa, spending a few hours with us. Then a few years later her second son was born, and I was on a plane to Seattle. I rented a car and drove through the snow to her little apartment in Ellensburg, fulfilling a promise I’d made when she was pregnant and worried. I spent a week there, falling in love with her boys, talking with her late into the night about how much our lives had changed.

That was the last time I saw her. Life started moving quickly, X and I moved to Southern California, started a new chapter in our lives. Syndea got a good job, started working odd hours. We didn’t talk as much anymore, but we emailed and she sent photos of her boys as they grew. There was a time there where we argued, and we didn’t speak for half a year. But like sisters do, we made up, we laughed at each other and we moved on. She wanted to come visit, we’d take the boys to Disneyland. She was dealing with the darker parts of her history, she was working hard and she was taking good care of her boys. They were happy. I watched her life through facebook posts and photos as X and I cared for his father, and finally lost him.

Late Friday night, Syndea and her boys perished in an accidental fire.

There are no words to express the sorrow in my heart. Syndea was a rare soul, and her boys were full of joy and love. The loss is too much.

Syndea, I love you. I miss you so much, I can’t bear it. Yes, today, I’m so Rob Thomas over you.