I love you Bretly

This blog has been your words, Bret, and now I’m left to write this post.  I hope that what I write here reflects you.  There are no words.  We had talked about this day, but the reality is so heavy. Since Bret and I met – 13 years and 10 months ago – in our freshmen year in college, we have been inseparable.  Even though we were so very young there was an instant connection and our bond throughout the years has held us together since.  We have often joked that he bought me for a nickel from my dad when I was a wee tike; that he had to come South to pick me up and spent years trying to move me North; that as opposite as we seem, that together we make a complete person.

Bret even wrote on his blog during our final return home from the roadtrip that “we’re inseparable.”  We literally did everything together.  We have traveled the US and abroad, we have gone from poor college students to careers in 3 states and even starting our graduate careers, taking classes together (just like in college), and restoring our historic home together in Rochester.  We have grown so much together over those years, and our relationship has shaped the people we have become.  Bret has imprinted himself on my heart and he is always with me. We recently moved back to our first home and I feel Bret here in so many ways.  His energy is palpable.  Bret’s artistic and engineering talents are all over our home; he has an incredibly creative eye that is unparalleled.  He is wicked smart.  One of our business school classmates once said that Bret, if given enough time, could figure out anything.  And not just any mathematical formula or engineering calculation, but he saw the world in a different light than most of us do.  Last fall before we started our road trip I was upset that our time was limited by cancer.  He said to me: “Look at the leaves changing outside, Shannon.  They will die and fall off the tree soon and in the Spring the cycle will start again.  We are too worried about death and not focused on living.”  His insight and continuing fighting spirit blew me away.  He really lived his motto: “Today is my best day.”  And living we did for the next year!!!  Amazing doesn’t begin to define him; no words do.

As I sit here at his computer, writing on this beautiful blog that he created, my heart is broken.  I don’t have him by my side – we have been separated and I feel like I’ve been cut in half.  Nothing takes the emptiness, the gravity of this loss away.

Even when we have been faced with enormous challenges in the last few months, I am thankful for every moment with this amazing person.   I have learned how to deeply and fully love because of Bret.  This is the ultimate gift and Bret’s eternal legacy.

I love you Bretly, always and forever!!!


To remember Bret and this journey of a lifetime, family and friends are invited to call at Miller Funeral Homes (3325 Winton Rd. S.) on Wednesday, Nov 16th from 4-8pm.  Bret’s service will be private.


About bhoefen

Going on a road trip.
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67 Responses to I love you Bretly

  1. Shannon, My heart and prayers are with you. If you ever need someone to talk with I am hear for you.

    Love, Carol Holly Burke

  2. Brea says:

    I am so sorry for your loss, Shannon, and for that of the entire Hoefen family. I ran cross country with Bret during my freshman and sophomore years of high school. He was a heck of a runner and a good and funny guy. I am so glad you have these good memories. You are all in my thoughts.

  3. Wendy says:

    There are in the end three thing that last: Faith, Hope and Love, and the greatest of these is Love.
    Paul, Corinthians 3:13

  4. Mike Gratz says:

    I have read this blog since I made contact with the Hoefen family. I am deeply saddened by the loss of Bret. Bret was a great example to follow if faced with the same mountain to climb. It was an honor to be apart of your ride….”Today is your best day”. The Gratz family will pray for your strength in this period of the ride!

  5. nanci bogan says:

    Dear Shannon and family…..I am so sorry for your GREAT loss of Bret. I have checked the blog frequently for updates and thought of you guys frequently. I love you guys!! love nanci

  6. D Tiberio says:

    I love you, Bret. God bless you, Hoefen family, and all your strength.

  7. Jill Gibney says:

    Dear, sweet Shannon. My heart cries with you. We’re out of the country, so we’re sorry we can’t be there on Wednesday. You and Bret will be close to our hearts. We love you.
    Jill & Patrick

  8. Bob Cownie says:

    Each morning, I have a choice of what direction to ride in the day that lies ahead.
    With Bret as my inspiration, I will humbly try to make today my best day and touch those around me with God’s love. Thank you, Bret. Thank you, Shannon…We will pray for your continued strength and grace.

  9. Mary Jo says:

    So sorry for your loss. You and Brett have touched so many people and inspired them to be better people, to live life to the fullest, the importance of family, and find the good in everything! May you find comfort in your memories! Thank you for sharing your lives with us this past year! You are both truly amazing people. May God bless you today and always!

  10. Rachel says:

    I am saddened by this news. My heart is broken but I am so blessed to have been able to follow your story. Brets words and his courage have comforted me when I was scared. He is truely an inspiraton. God bless you and many thoughts and prayers are with you in this time.
    Rachel (your ccs friend)

  11. Betsy Wager-Stenclik says:

    Dear Shannon, Thank you for sharing your journey with Bret over the past year. While Bret was taken from you much too soon, how lucky you were to have such an incredible love with him. You and Bret both, taught us all how to live each day to the fullest and enjoy every moment. I am so sorry for your loss. It’s heartbreaking to think about what you are going through. Please know that you and the entire Hoefen family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  12. Kristen Palmer says:

    Your beautiful story of your amazing life with your Bretly touches my heart Shannon. Bret had a tremendous outlook on life that we all can learn from. May the love of family and friends help you through this very difficult time. You have wonderful memories and strong faith that will help you through your sadness. Prayers are going out for you and your family Shannon.
    Reed & Kristen Palmer ( Friends of the Simpsons)

  13. I am so sorry for your loss. I hope you find peace in all of your memories and strength in knowing how special your journey has been. I think of you often and admire your courage. Bret was a wonderful person and gave new meaning to many people.

  14. Ashley says:

    Shannon and Hoefen Family,

    My hearts go out to you during this difficult time. I lost Chris to CCS a year and a half ago and know the plethora of emotions you are feeling at this time. My thoughts and prayers go out to each of you; please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.



  15. JoEllen Fahy Schubmehl says:

    A butterfly lights by us like a sunbeam
    For a moment its glory and beauty belong to the world
    Then, it flies on again
    Though we wish it could have stayed, we feel so lucky to have seen it

    I do not know the author of this poem, but it brought me comfort during the greatest loss of my life, the passing of my brother. I know that Bret’s strength, courage and charisma brightened so many lives, including ours. Please know our hearts go out to you and we are so very sorry for your loss.

    JoEllen, Jim, McKenna and Kinley Schubmehl

  16. timpla says:


    Porter and I are tremendously saddened by the loss of Bret. Our hearts go out to you. I only wish I could be there with you to wrap my arms around you and to tell you it will be okay. But I know that you are surrounded by Bret’s wonderful family and they will help you find strength in the days and weeks to come. Please call me if you need anything at all.

    All my love and friendship

  17. Jennifer says:

    Shannon and Hoefen family, I am very sorry for your loss. Please remeber Bret will always be with you. There will be days that he will give you reminders that he is still there. Bret gave us all inspiration and courage this past year. He was an amazing man. I keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. God Bless.

  18. jeanarlenel says:

    “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
    ― Lao Tzu

    I wish you the strength and courage to get through this; I know you have many happy memories to bring back that smile in the times to come.

  19. Pat Gratz says:

    Your blog entries have been an inspiration to our entire family. Meeting you both along with Bret’s mom and dad last December was very special for Brad and I. Our prayers will continue to be with you all as Bret makes his final ride into the sunset. God Bless you all. Pat & Brad Gratz

  20. Yvonne M Sellers says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you Shannon & all of Bret’s Family at this difficult time. In the quiet that follows, may the wonderful memories of the love shared bring you comfort. The lessons that Bret taught us, through his strength & courage, are many. Thank you for sharing so much of your lives. We have been forever changed, in such a ‘good direction’.
    I am truly sorry for your loss.

  21. Jessica says:


    I would have expected that knowing, in advance, that yesterday’s news would eventually come would have cushioned the grief. Somehow, it didn’t. I admire your continuted strength and know Bret would have been proud of you. You are a true magnolia…

    We love you and will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

    Jessica, Joe, Abby & Jack

  22. Chris Ashley says:

    Wish I could be there Shannon to comfort you. Just remember we are praying for you and love you very much. All the comments above say it all. There is nothing left to say ….. we are here for you always.
    Aunt Chris

  23. Cousin Michelle, Mario, and Simona says:

    Shannon, we love you and have always admired how strong you are and what an amazing person you are. Bret is lucky is have you and all the wonderful things you have said about how he has changed you, you have done for him as well. We pray everyday for Bret and he will always be in our hearts! You are such a wonderful part of our family. Love always!

  24. Dawn DeBadts says:

    Dear Bret’s Shannon, Mom, Dad, and Family,
    I sit here and wonder what to think. I thought of the word FAITH and what it means to me right now. To me FAITH is what you can’t see but what you need because of what you have seen. Maybe FAITH is where we can find comfort even for just a little bit.

    I saw this passage recently and I wanted to share with you.





    And lived Bret did and he made his mark on so many. Whatever purpose he had for you in his short life, only each of you can know. How very special for us all who grew to know him physically or through his blog. Let there be some peace in in you hearts right now.

    Love ,

  25. Stacie Phillips says:

    I am so thankful that I was able to spend my early years at college with you and Bret. The two of you had such an impact on my life and I will never forget all of the fun times we had. Brian and I have been thinking about and praying for you. You are both truly amazing people and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to live with and get to know you.

  26. Chris Swingle (formerly a writer with the D&C) says:

    It’s so clear that Bret will live on in the hearts of many people. Be gentle with yourself during this time, Shannon.

  27. June Beaupre' Milliman says:

    Dear Mrs. Hoefen,
    You probably don’t remember me but I had you for art. I am so truly sorry to hear about your son. I have been reading this site and had to go get a box of tissue to keep beside me. It is truly touching to hear all the good and sad that has happened to Bret. I didn’t know him but I feel in a way that I do now. My prayers go out to you and your family in this tragic time. I wish there was something I could do to easy the pain knowing that only comes with lots of time. No parent should have to go through this. Take care of yourself and even though it is hard, try to take some comfort knowing that Bret is no longer suffering. I’m sure he is up with God right now back to his adventures, living the after-life to the fullest until you meet again with the biggest smile on his face! RIP Bret!!!
    Sincerely yours,
    June Beaupre’ Milliman
    Class of ’86

  28. Lisa says:

    You don’t know me and neither did Bret. A friend passed me a link to Bret’s blog on a rainy day in October when I was feeling down. She simply said, “I go here for inspiration.” I sat and read Bret’s entire blog from the first post to the last. I finished at 10:30 that night with video you made, “Taking the Curves.”
    I feel like I know you all. The sense of family and friends truly shined through… You all are so lucky to have the strong bonds that you do…. And to have had Bret in your lives.
    My prayers go out to you and all who are grieving.
    I have said to myself everyday since reading Bret’s blog “Today is the best day.” Today may not be the best day for you, but you have loved, are loved, and are an inspiration to many who have lost to keep living.
    Take care…

  29. Ray Ferran says:

    Shanon, I guess we all knew this day would come, and yet I Feel shock and an overwhelming sadness. I could see in all the videos and pictures of the blog, you always sitting or standing near Bret,more as a part of him than anything else. I used to think “I can’t possibly imagine how hard this is on Shannon”. You were truly much more than a partner. I’m so sorry for your loss

  30. nannette and karl says:

    Shannon, we’re thinking of you and the entire Hoefen family in these difficult times. May the memories of riding in a good direction with Brett always give you peace.

  31. Marissa Siciliano says:

    You are a strong woman. The love that you and Bret share will keep you strong. I am so sad to hear of his passing and I can imagine the heartbreak that you will endure. Remember that you have so many people who support you and care about you. Bret is guiding you. He has touched many lives and his passion and courage have inspired what seems like a whole nation of blog followers. He will always be remembered as an incredible man that could do anything and be great at it. You are an incredible woman and I hope I get to meet you someday. You and Bret both have touched my heart. The memories he shared with us were memories he was building with you and his family. Those memories and your love will last a lifetime.
    Sending love and prayers,

  32. Kristen Greisch says:

    I thanked God for being told of Bret’s blog. I lost my mother last year to cancer in a very abrupt way. His blog helped me in so many ways to be able to come to grips with the loss and start living. He was a angel in so many ways to so many people who never got to meet him. I’ve known his family from high school and they are all an amazing, loving group of people. I am sincerely sorry for your loss Shannon and know that without my husband I’d to feel like half a person. I only hope that his blog can help keep the black hole in your heart just a little bit smaller, I cherished every journey you two were on and enjoyed being allowed to sit and watch the beautiful world you both opened up to us all. Thank you to you and Bret for allowing me and everyone into your lives and letting us learn how to “Ride in a good direction”. Something I know I needed to learn again.

    All my deepest heart felt wishes go to you and the entire Hoefen family….

    Kristen Greisch

  33. Linda Ann Ventura says:


    You, my dear, are an inspiration to all those who have open themselves to read this blog. I know that I speak for many who have been blessed by just reading and remaining silent. We move forward throughout our day, however, inspired and enriched, touching the lives that cross our paths daily in whatever capacity enriched by the words shared on these pages. I want to be the voice for those who have learned to be their best selves following you and your loving family throughout your journey.

    With gratitude and love we send prayers and compassionate enery to you and all of Bret’s family and friends.

    Today is our best day.


    Linda Ann

  34. John Hudgins, Nine Mile Point says:

    God bless you! Your words epitomize what marriage and life long committment should look like. Bret was blessed with a great wife who stood by him. Cherish your memories. You are in my prayers.

  35. Aunt Judy & Uncle Kevin says:

    Dear Shannie,
    While sitting here trying to think of what to say to you, the words just don’t come. I hope you know how much we all love you and we want you to know how wonderful it is for us to know that our Bret had you by his side every minute of this journey. How lucky he is to have had such a special partner during his short life–and how lucky we all are to have you in our lives.
    With much love,
    UK & AJ

  36. Kristen Palmer says:

    My heart goes out to you Judy and all the beloved Hoefen family!

  37. David and Laraine says:

    Dear Shannon,
    We are broken hearted for you and your entire family. You know how much we love you and Bret and how honored we have been to be your Pultneyville “parents.” We take comfort in knowing that Bret is pain free and is riding in the BEST direction! We will never forget him or the lessons your journey together taught us.
    Our love to you and all the Hoefens and Robertsons.
    David and Laraine

  38. Judy Lynd says:

    Shannon and all the Hoefens…..Bret and you have all been an inspiration to us, teaching each of us what the important things in life are and how to make the most of each moment. Though we can’t be there in person, please know you are each in our thoughts and prayers. Judy and John

  39. Rachel Caylor says:

    I am so sorry and heartbroken for your loss. Please know that Bret’s inspiration will stick with me and I am grateful for the way I was forced to look at my own life and put it into perspective and be a better friend, wife and mother because of him, and this blog. My prayers and thoughts are with you… I am so sorry.

  40. Linda Lane says:

    Shannon, I have been following Bret’s blog since the beginning when Carmel sent me the link. What a journey the two of you have made! My thoughts and prayers are with you!
    Linda Lane in your hometown, King

  41. Ryan Frischmann says:

    I am so sorry to hear about losing Bret; he was such a phenomenal person, a real gentle, kind, brilliant guy. Yes he was brilliant, he was only one of a few who ever got my “lighy bulb” riddle. It was nice to spend time with him playing chess. The trip Bret, family and friends made across the US was truly inspirational, something that really shows us what is most important in this world: LOVE. I hope you cherish your wonderful memories with Bret, and find him in another place….

  42. Linda V. says:

    Shannon and Hoefen Family,

    I was so sorry to read about Bret’s death in the obituaries this morning. My thoughts are with you at this time.

    Bret willingly shared his journey and in doing so taught all of his blog followers how to live in the moment, cherish each day and to not lose sight of what is truly important. What a wonderful gift he gave to each of us There have been times that I have paused and thought to myself what would Bret do? Even though I didn’t know him personally, he taught me how to look at life from a new perspective. It is with much sadness and tears in my eyes that I say good-bye to Bret, an extraordinary human being that touched the lives of so many. I feel truly blessed to have been allowed to accompany Bret and his family on this journey.


  43. Daniel says:

    Shannon, your heart’s compass, your strength and dignity ensured that each day was Bret’s best day. The unfathomable sorrow you feel will not take root, there is an infinite strength in you and in time it will show you a new good direction. You’ve selflessly share your journey together with the world and I believe in my heart that if everybody you’ve touched could take on just a scintilla of your pain they’d do so in a heartbeat. I wish for you anything which brings you and your family peace and comfort.

  44. Darryl says:

    Very sorry for your loss. Thanks for the great blog!

  45. Peggy says:

    I am so sorry, I think Bret touched so many lives! He did mine!
    Our thoughts and prayers are with your entire family.

  46. Emily K says:

    Beautiful words Shannon. Thinking of you so very much ..

  47. Christina says:

    This was a beautiful post full of love. I am so sorry for your lost.

  48. Midge Ruffner Kogler, COTA, Driver Rehabilitation Specialist says:

    In my career, there are very few clients or patients that I will always remember. Bret was, and is, one of the most determined people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. My sincere, heartfelt condolences for your loss.

  49. Nanette Hance says:

    To Shannon … You are truly an amazing person. You are a woman that went above and beyond throughout Bret’s illness. You remained supportive, cheerful and inseperable. Your loss is enormous and yet you continue to smile. You have given new meaning to being a steel magnolia as you continue to bloom despite your darkest hour. It is through your unwavering support that Bret could ride in his best direction ever and live life to the fullest. It is through you that Bret’s spirit will live on. May your rmost cherished memories of happier times give you strength to meet each new day … and may your fondest memories bring you peace and comfort in the days that lie ahead. Thinking of you and the Hoefen and Robertson families.

    • Scott says:

      I as well as others will never forget. Today was my best day, I am looking forward to tomorrow, and Bret has a lot to do with that.

      With sincere gratitude, and humble condolences,

  50. Sue K. Hill says:

    Cannot begin to imagine the pain you’re going through. Praying for peace as you get through each day. Thank you for allowing us to share in some of the precious memories the two of you experienced.

  51. Gonzalo Olivari says:

    Bret was such a nice Guy, and I heaven still been such a nice guy…I was his classmate at Wayland and he was very kind with me during Senior Year (I was an Exchange Student from Chile) I still having pictures with him as a part of the track team. A classmate from HS just told me about it, I am to sad.
    Peace to all your family, will keep in touch prying for Bret.
    Gonzalo Olivari “Gonzo” from Chile

  52. Victoria says:

    I came upon this blog about a month ago. I read almost all of it in one night. I loved the life he seemed to put into living. I loved the strength you and his parents were to him and the strength Bret was to you all. I now ache for you and the ones he left behind as he rides on. May your new journey be filled with comfort.

  53. Yi Cheng says:

    Dear Shannon, I’m sorry to know this. Although I’ve never had a chance to meet Bret in person, but I can tell how you love each other between the lines. I believe that you made the best memories together, which is one thing that most couples haven’t done yet. I know you are brave enough to get through this hard time, but just want to let you know there’re still so many people love and care about you when you need some support, including me. Someday you plan to visit Taiwan, be sure to notice me! Best wishes for you and Bret’s second meeting in the future!

  54. jeanne says:

    I am so very sorry. What a testimony to love and resilience you both have shown us.

  55. Dawn DeBadts says:

    Good morning Hoefens- I just wanted to share with you all that we are putting 2 new Christmas orniments on our tree this year. They are orange, black and round. There is an inscription on them that says Bret Hoefen “Ride in a Good Direction”.
    Love Dawn

  56. Laurie Sherner says:

    Dear Shannon and Hoefen family:

    I am late in writing because I have been in the hospital with a cancer diagnosis. I can tell you unequivocally that Bret’s attitude certainly impacts my own as I try to understand what is happening to me now. But this is NOT about me, it is about YOUR loss of such a wonderful husband, son, brother and friend. I can only say that I admired all of you for being so loving and supportive and this must have made his journey bearable. You are amazing people and while I know you are hurting, please know there are people out there, like me, who followed the blog and were cheering all of you on as you took the trips and made the most of whatever you were dealt. My prayer is for God to give you the strength to press on, now, minus your dear Bret. He will never be gone from your hearts and I know in my heart you will see him again. All of my love goes out to you. Take care.

  57. Chris says:

    Dear Hoefen Family,

    I stumbled upon this blog yesterday after seeing a picture of Bret and Shannon in the “Pictures of the Year” section of the D&C website.
    This morning, I began with Bret’s first post and read each one in chronilogical order.
    Words cannot describe how moving Bret’s journey was and the permanent impression it will have on my life; it will help me strive to be a better person each day. It reminded me of so many lessons it is so easy to forget as we go about our daily lives: Each day is a gift – be thankful and make the most out of each one, live a simple life and take pleasure in the “little things” and cherish your loved ones!
    I truly beleive I was meant to stumble upon this. Thanks very much for sharing.

  58. Mandy Lindsey Cayouette says:

    What a beautiful and yet heart-wrenching surprise to see your face & Bret’s on the front page of the newspaper on this first day of the new year. To be perfectly honest, it stole my breath for a moment. You & your family remain in my prayers. ❤

  59. Kate Janicki-Cooper says:

    I periodically come back to this blog as I have followed it from the beginning. I dont personally know you or knew Brett, but his mom was my daughter’s art teacher at WCCS. My heart continues to ache for your loss as I read of your deep love for Brett. I wish you peace of mind and heart and will meet you both someday in heaven. God Bless you.

  60. Sally Leeson says:

    Shannon, Thinking of you and all of the Hoefens on this Valentine’s Day. Thank you once again for sharing your and Bret’s journey and love story!

  61. Kate Janicki-Cooper says:

    I thought of you and Brett today after completing the CrossWalk in Wayland ….Wishing you and the family a blessed Easter.

  62. John says:

    It’s 3AM and I found this post from a link on the Wayland Historical Society. The past two hours I’ve been going over this creative online gift. But time is no longer an issue. I’m sorry I didn’t know Bret, but I’m proud to know he was from Springwater, and that his awareness was not that he was just going to meet his maker, but in truth, that he knew him along the way. I’ll be thinking of him next time I get back home.

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  64. IceRink says:

    Thank you for leaving this website up and running. Last year I was diagnosed with CCS and I had and have! much support in reading all of the blogs and responses on an ongoing basis!
    Thanks again!

  65. Sally Leeson says:

    Thinking of you all, Hoefen family, on this third anniversary of Bret’s “riding in a new direction” and rejoicing in all the tender moments he gave us all to ponder when reading his blog. My heart still aches for all of you, but it must be some comfort to know how much he influenced so many others’ lives. Please have your best day ever and we will too!

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