Goodbye Tom

We lost Tom suddenly on Friday night.  He was 44.

If you speak obituary like it is a language, then you would understand that ‘suddenly’ usually means by way of heart attack. There is no preparing for this, it is shocking and extremely heartbreaking. It leaves you wanting more; just 5 more precious minutes I wish I could have had.  That you could have had to say “I love you.  You’re not awesome-you are amazing.  Thank you”

I will tell you I learned of this through a post Christine made on facebook and my heart sunk when she simply responded to someone and said it was Tom.  Surely it wasn’t Tom; the Tom I knew.  Please don’t let it be THAT Tom, my heart whispered.

When we spoke on the phone a few hours later, my heart sunk as I drove dangerously with my eyes welling up with tears that partially blinded me for a few seconds until they just spilled over streaming down my face with one second of clarity only to be blurred out by a new tears.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you Tom was my best friend or something.  He was not.  He was an acquaintance I met through Christine in 2007 or 2008 who became a friend.  What I will tell you is that Tom was great. The little time (compared to so many other people) I did get to spend with him I understood he was something different.   Something amazing.  Something beautiful.  I recognize greatness when it is before me. Truthfully there are other people in my life who have passed that I knew better, but didn’t touch my heart like Tom did. This is the truth as I have nothing to gain with kissing anyone’s ass, especially when they aren’t even here anymore to hear it.  But Tom was great, and that’s why he is worth recognizing because I wish more people were like Tom, because if there were, the world would be a better place.

Tom was the older brother my parents never gifted me with.  Most of the time he infuriated me, straight up drove me so crazy that I would want to fight him even though he was about two and a half times my size.  In rarer, quieter moments, he was the caring older brother that let you know it was going to be ok and that he had your back.  In all moments, he let you know he cared about you and that you were loved even if you had just met him or were a friend of a friend like I was before I upgraded to friend level. Tom was different because he found a way to disarm people’s walls of self protection and get them to open up and love him right back. I dont know if that should be considered a talent, but it is definetly a gift, one that was ever so beautiful because it is rare. Some might say that Tom’s ability to love came from his big heart….a heart that was bigger than his GIGANTIC head.

I have come to see that life has a funny way of coming full circle. My 2014 New Years resolution was to leave everyone I encountered better than they were before, or better than when than when we had met, whether it be a short term situation (like the cranky cashier at the supermarket) or long term situation (co-workers, family, etc).  I wanted the interactions I had to be always left on a good note.  Oddly enough I’m recognizing this must have been Tom’s mantra or life long goal.

Testaments to Tom’s greatness is vast amounts of people I saw streaming to pay their respects at his viewing today when I was there for only an hour.  Testaments are the hundred bouquets sent from all the people who love him.  I shit you not, I have never seen so many flowers for one person. There literally was about a hundred floral arrangements. Testament is how many grown men I saw crying because only someone like Tom could evoke that much emotion and love because he was never afraid to give it.

I am a virtual stranger in this sea of Greek people who had the actual pleasure of knowing Tom so much more intimately and better than I did. I am the Token Asian girl (I did not see any others which is good because we may have to fight to the death) who couldn’t stop crying who had people wondering “who is this beautiful Kinezula to Tom? Why is she crying so much? Look at how she has a softball sized wads of tear soaked tissues in each hand!” (They don’t realize I understand Greek).

Yes, I cry. I am a crier. I cry during movies but this is real life and so the tears will fall. I said to my boyfriend “I cried only a little today by my standards, but alot by everyone elses standards” He says to me, “crying means you care”. It is permission to show how much you care. We all have cared in our lives about someone who has become our dearly departed. Tommorow we will with our tears, show how we loved Tom and all the others that are gone we loved that we miss them everyday. We let them live in our hearts through the memories we cherish because thankfully death can’t steal that away from us.

Goodbye Tom.  I’m going to miss you and your bellyaching laugh.

This is how I remember Tom, always smiling and cheerful.
This is how I remember Tom, always smiling and cheerful.

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