On Tuesday, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg finally made a public appearance, four days after the mysterious death of her husband David Goldberg in Mexico.
Sandberg spoke at a memorial for Goldberg held at Stanford University that was closed to the press. She had remained publicly silent until Tuesday morning, when she responded to a Facebook message from Barack Obama in which he wrote, “David Goldberg embodied the definition of a real leader – someone who was always looking for ways to empower others. We’re heartbroken by him leaving us far too soon – but we celebrate a remarkable legacy.” Sandberg answered on Facebook, “Dave Goldberg admired you for your leadership, passion, and your deep love of sports.”
In 2011, Sandberg gave the maximum $30,800 donation to the Democratic Party and the maximum of $2,500 to Obama’s re-election campaign.
The event at Stanford featured celebrities offering their condolences, including Bono, who sang “One,” and former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Meg Whitman, who refused to speak with reporters.
Goldberg, 47, the chief executive of SurveyMonkey, built the company to a value of $2 billion. He allegedly died from falling off a treadmill and hitting his head, but doubts remain because his death was not announced until the following day and three days passed before a cause of death was announced. Some speculated that his death may have been a suicide.
Tuesday, Sandberg posted a message on Facebook reading:
I want to thank all of our friends and family for the outpouring of love over the past few days. It has been extraordinary – and each story you have shared will help keep Dave alive in our hearts and memories.
I met Dave nearly 20 years ago when I first moved to LA. He became my best friend. He showed me the internet for the first time, planned fun outings, took me to temple for the Jewish holidays, introduced me to much cooler music than I had ever heard.
We had 11 truly joyful years of the deepest love, happiest marriage, and truest partnership that I could imagine… He gave me the experience of being deeply understood, truly supported and completely and utterly loved – and I will carry that with me always. Most importantly, he gave me the two most amazing children in the world.
Dave was my rock. When I got upset, he stayed calm. When I was worried, he said it would be ok. When I wasn’t sure what to do, he figured it out. He was completely dedicated to his children in every way – and their strength these past few days is the best sign I could have that Dave is still here with us in spirit.
Dave and I did not get nearly enough time together. But as heartbroken as I am today, I am equally grateful. Even in these last few days of completely unexpected hell – the darkest and saddest moments of my life – I know how lucky I have been. If the day I walked down that aisle with Dave someone had told me that this would happen – that he would be taken from us all in just 11 years – I would still have walked down that aisle. Because 11 years of being Dave Goldberg’s wife, and 10 years of being a parent with him is perhaps more luck and more happiness than I could have ever imagined. I am grateful for every minute we had.
As we put the love of my life to rest today, we buried only his body. His spirit, his soul, his amazing ability to give is still with it. It lives on in the stories people are sharing of how he touched their lives, in the love that is visible in the eyes of our family and friends, in the spirit and resilience of our children. Things will never be the same – but the world is better for the years my beloved husband lived.