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When the Unthinkable Happens — A Dublin Mom Dies Giving Birth — Her Neighbors Unite to Help

Dublin residents have stepped up to help a local widowed dad, now alone to care for his newborn and 3-year-old son.

By Dublin resident Natasha Giannini 

Two days before Thanksgiving most families were scurrying around getting ready for the holiday, a time in which families gather to celebrate. 

Our neighbor, Anna So, was on her way to the hospital that Tuesday morning to deliver her second child, a boy, to be named Jake.

Pictures were posted on Facebook, by dad, Josh, showing the delivery room and their older son, Ryan, so excited to become a big brother (at the ripe age of 3). Such an exciting time for a family and their Dublin neighbors, who were sharing their joy at their family's expansion.

But that evening our neighborhood was hit with the blow that Anna had tragically passed away during the birth of baby Jake. Jake had a rough start, struggling to take that first breath and was taken to UCSF for further intensive care. 

Josh kept all of us updated daily via Facebook, as we all felt helpless as we watched Josh do his best for Ryan and Jake, knowing he just lost his wife and the mother of his two boys. Jake came home Tuesday, seven days after he was born. Such a miracle after such devastation. 

Our Dublin Ranch Gleneagles community is an especially unique one. To say we are neighbors is so impersonal. To many of us, this community is our family. At the very least, we are all friends.

When something this tragic strikes, such as that which happened to the So family, we cannot help but to have the overwhelming desire to help in any way we can find. 

Some made signs to welcome baby Jake, some have set up an online meal calendar, some moms are continuing the preschool research for Josh (which Anna was doing) and some are looking to make a monetary donation to the So family to help with funeral expenses.    

Anna will be laid to rest this Saturday at a private ceremony in Livermore. 

While it's a really hard time to find "extra" money to give away, if you're interested in helping out, please send checks, made payable to Josh So to: 

So Family Fund
c/o Nersi Bossina
Senior Vice President 
Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
101 California St., 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111

Josh So wrote the following letter to his wife, Anna, on Facebook after she died. We've posted it below with his permission.

Letter to my beautiful wife Anna — 1975-2011

By Josh So on Saturday, November 26, 2011 at 9:48pm

Dear Anna,

It's been almost 11 years since I have written you a letter, but today I am so hurt and demoralized from the events last Tuesday night that I have to put something down. My heart hurts, and I cannot stop crying every night and day because I feel like somebody ripped my heart out, kicked it around and kicked me some more. I am still in disbelief as to what happened and no matter what medical professionals say about how rare Amniotic Embolisms are, it's not rare enough because it took you away from Ryan, Jakey and I.

Going back to freshman year in college, I still remember the day I met you. You were vibrant, assertive and had the most outgoing personality I could ever imagine. I was immediately attracted to you but it was not the right time to ask you out. We kept in touch via Pine email and shared funny jokes.

That one weekend on my birthday that we somehow ended up meeting up, I still remember that day clearly. The object of obsession was a Tickle Me Elmo, and we search high and low for one and eventually found one. We also ended up watching some cheesy movie with George Clooney called "One Fine Day," but hey, it was a date right? Throughout that year I can't believe how much I spent on the phone and cell phone. We talked all the time, sometimes sitting in my CRX outside in the car or even on the toilet so my roommates wouldn't bother me. 10/24 was the magical night that we decided to get together. I scrambled the next morning to find you a birthday present. I was so clueless, the only thing I found before our dinner at Moose's was a pair of workout pants. I never lived that down. 

It was a great night and was the 1st time where I felt like it was a good relationship that would last forever. That year was so incredibly great and I looked forward to talking to you every night after class and driving down from Davis to hang out. 

We were really on the same page, and it was scary how much we thought alike — from politics, to family, the religious belief, to sports, etc. It was a match made in heaven and it showed through our many years together. It also made life so predictable that I had full trust in you and you in me likewise. 

As I look back at all our pictures and videos, I reflected on everything that you have done. You were incredible. Working endless hours to succeed first at Schwab through the Wings program, to what you were doing at Sutro with both underwriting and being a VP, to finally Morgan Stanley. I still cannot believe that you would wake up at 4 a.m. and sometimes 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday to go to work, come home and still take care of Ryan, pay bills, cook and clean up and keep things in order. I don't know how you did it. You raised Ryan to the utmost standard, spent an incredible amount of time with him, made sure he had the cutest clothes to make us all laugh, and fed him so well with all the incredible food that you make.   

Honey — you were beautiful, talented, extremely smart and loving. I always looked forward to coming home and even if I had the roughest day you supported me, talked sense into me, gave me hugs and kisses and took incredible care of me. Sometimes I don't think I deserved you but you always were by my side even through the roughest times — 2 ACL surgeries — you drove me back and forth, got my meds, took care of Ryan and made sure I was OK.  When I crashed the F-car, you said time to go get the McLaren! I adore you. 

Right now I am sure you are in a better place and looking down on us. Ryan and I have been praying every night. He gets down on his knees, closes his eyes and puts his hands to together. He says please God take care of Jakey and Mommy. We love them both. I miss Mommy and love mommy. I even eat my choi choi (vegetables) just like she tells me."

Words cannot express how lonely I am without you. It also breaks my heart that Ryan will not have his mommy anymore and worse Jakey will not know his mother at all. I miss your kisses, your hugs, your laugh, your rants about stupid drivers, and your endless spirit and energy. I love you. 

your (honey)bunches.

Mary December 02, 2011 at 04:46 PM
This is heart wrenching. I gave birth recently as well.. I am so sorry for your loss. I am praying God gives you strength and joy despite. God bless you and your little ones.
Lori Beth Eisenstadt December 02, 2011 at 08:16 PM
There is nothing to help you now but the passage of time. You and your precious family will be in our thoughts. Your community is here to support you. Just remember that its okay to ask for help. Wishing you peace.
Sharon Marts December 02, 2011 at 08:40 PM
Josh is a remarkable person and we are awed by his example and his humility in this difficult time. We live directly across from him and feel blessed to bear witness to the growth of his sons. Luckily he has family and a neighborhood (like none I've seen before) who are there to help whenever/wherever he should need it.
Kristin December 02, 2011 at 10:07 PM
What a heartbreaking story. Someone close to the family may want to contact someone at the Liz Logelin foundation. Matt is a blogger and now author who experienced a similar loss (his wife died 27 hours after their daughter was born) and has created a foundation to provide financial and other support to people in similar situations. They seem like a wonderful group of people. http://thelizlogelinfoundation.org/
Lynette December 02, 2011 at 11:38 PM
My heart goes out to you. I just finished reading your letter to your beautiful wife and tears are still streaming down my cheeks. I will keep you and your handsome young sons in my prayers.
Michele December 05, 2011 at 11:17 AM
Just read this. I'm from Omaha, NE. Besides money do the boys need clothes? What about a grocery or cell phone card?? Please email me! Michele.parker@live.com God bless...so sad..
Erika Conner December 05, 2011 at 05:46 PM
Michele - That is so thoughtful of you to offer help from a distance. I will forward your email to the contact who has been in touch with the family.
Ana Vargas December 06, 2011 at 07:20 AM
I'am not a good writer, please bare with me. I was very sad just reading the Head-line, but after reading Josh's letter to his wife, I want to be a better wife to my Husband. I will print it out and keep reading the part about when he comes home from work and she kisses him and hugs him. I will also send donation at address shown. Ana
Debi December 07, 2011 at 05:40 PM
I have 2 outfits that I would love to donate if anyone can help me to get them to Josh I would appreciate it. please email me at r8rfan2@att.net. Thank you
Erika Conner December 08, 2011 at 11:04 PM
Hi Debi - I will forward your email to Josh so that he has it and is aware you have some clothes.
Agnes Lee December 20, 2011 at 05:29 PM
My heart goes out to Josh & his 2 little sons. His letter to his wife & speech of Josh's father given at church both are so touching. As a pastor's son, Josh may like to put Ryan into Christian school. St Clare's Christian on Hopyard, Valley Christian & Resurrection Lutheran are good. I personally have my 4 y.o twins into Resurrection. Josh can buy lunch there & it doesn't require kid to be potty trained. If Josh put Ryan for full time class, and needs help for pick up. I live close to Dublin Ranch. I can do it for free. I've been doing it for a neighnor's daughter. As a christian, & came from Hong Kong like Josh, I'm more than happy to help him in a long run if possible. I'm sure my B/G twins would love to have another playmate too. If he doesn't mind used clothes, my son's used clothes may be good for Ryan for a long run, as their ages are so close. Please let Josh know & email me at honeymilk3@yahoo.com
sad friend May 04, 2012 at 12:03 AM
After less than six months after Anna's death, Josh the "grieving" husband is now engaged to be married. What happened to Anna is completely heartbreaking. How Josh is behaving now is completely inappropriate and sad. He was asking for monetary donations yet he drives a Ferrari and an M5. I don't want to come across as cold hearted but I wanted to share with all of you about his behavior. I'm glad that I didn't give him money as he clearly doesn't need any financial help plus be obviously has found a way to quickly move on which is extremely sad for those who knew Anna.
Josh So June 27, 2012 at 06:57 PM
The above comment from sad friend is utterly unfounded in so many ways and laced with mis-information. 1) I don't have an M5. 2) Anna and I bought the Ferrari together after years of hard work and long hours in 2006. 3) I appreciated all the donations to pay for funeral expenses, memorial service and burial expenses but was set up by my FA and Anna's co-workers 4) I have every right to seek happiness after processing the grief with the help of church and counselor helping me with PTSD. You do not define how I grief. If you were a real friend to Anna and I, you would 1) not comment anonymously and come talk to me directly 2) support me through the last 7 months through both bad AND good times. I suggest that if you REALLY knew Anna that you seek help with how you are processing her passing. Our family will always love her with all our hearts and respect her and what and when I do seek happiness is not your concern nor should you try to libel me.

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