Letter to Tom, 8/01/2001
Well, here we are. Who would have thought we’d ever end up in this way, me writing you a letter that will be buried with you.
I’m typing this letter to you on your old, OLD computer in the back bedroom. This machine, like a million other things, will forever remind me of you. The UT wallpaper, the “Tom’s Arena of Pain” title bar which I changed to “Tom’s Arena of Whatever” (did you ever notice?). Just in this room alone, you are everywhere--your hat, shoes, some old mail on the bookshelf, the video currently playing on TV (Dad is taping you in a bike race). Just one half an hour ago, we played your last message on the answering machine. It was broken up, but we could make out a few phrases, including an “I love you”, to anyone listening.
Well, if I could leave a message on that great answering machine in the sky for you, I’d say, “I love you.” I miss you. I need you. I want you back. My life will never be the same. This great tear in my heart and in mind will never completely heal. No book, no movie, no shared story could ever have possibly prepared me for the loss that I am feeling right now. The gaping wound of this loss will be forever kept open by so many things; the picture of you in your Porter Junior High band uniform, the empty cologne bottle I found on I-10 exit 699 at the POI (point of impact), the memory of you in a beret, your trumpets, your broken Palm Pilot, your beautiful smile, your weights, your shoes, the timber of your voice, your expansive knowledge on every goddamned topic I ever posed to you, all of these and so many more things. The blue of the sky will never be as beautiful as it was, the green of trees and grass never as rich and warm. All colors fade without you in my world.
However gray my existence now is, the blood of my love flows through this wound in my heart, and this rich life force envelops your memories and keeps them alive in me, and in all of us. These memories, along with all of the physical reminders will keep you in our thoughts and hearts (the tape currently in the VCR is showing you in the Crockett Band, playing a wonderful trumpet solo “Tonight”). I had always envisioned us growing old together, imagining our 50’s and 60’s. What parties those would have been! They will never be complete without you, but I imagine we will learn to think of you as away on a trip or something. Who knows? I have no idea how to handle this. Please drop by with your occasional wisdom and help me out, ok? Until then...
Your loving brother,
Letter to Tom, 8/29/2017:
It has been nine years since I opened up my journal about you, a journal which ultimately has taken the form of letters to you. I began that journal the day you and Becky died in 7/28/2001, just 6 months married. I wrote in it with some regularity through 2004; I dropped in an entry sometime in 2005 and then again in 2008. Well, here we are, it’s 2017 and I'm already in those aforementioned 50's, still without you two in them.
The fabric of my life changed forever on the day you and Becky were taken from me. I knew that was to be the case fairly quickly after it happened, but of course I couldn’t forecast where my life would go from there, could I? I only knew that it had changed irrevocably. My letter writing to you dwindled as the realization kicked in that no matter what I thought and what I wrote, nothing about losing you was going to change except the number of days passing.
In the 9 years that have passed I last wrote, well…I’ve had cancer removed from my body, I’ve put some major addictions behind me, and I’m still the lucky father to one Rebecca Kayla, now 15 and becoming a high school sophomore. I’ve found a peaceful co-parenting/cohabitating relationship with her father Eran and I’m engaged to be married to the most wonderful man named Matt, who proposed to me while he was wearing a dress this last July 4th. Mom is gone these 7 years, but Dad’s still kicking at 94, “feeling 40 and damned dangerous”, very much enjoying his life with his wife Mary, the widow of one of his squadron buddies. The sibs are succeeding in their own ways and facing life on life’s terms; we are all still in good standing with one another, despite minor squabbles. Although I never thought I’d see the day, I have finally discovered the best person I can be right here where I’ve always been standing; I truly think the child I once was would be proud of the man I’ve become, at long last.
Funny how when faced with summarizing one’s life for an entire decade the big points just jump right out at you...it makes you realize what’s really important and what isn’t. This summary of my present certainly paints a picture of my possible future, but I know that I must give up all hope of a better past. You are no longer in my life and yet beautiful days still come and go, as do the tears when I think about you long enough. As my friend Thom just said as he walked out the door, “Love never goes away”, and so it goes.
I miss you with all of my heart. If you’re checking in on me, please shine a light ahead for me.
Your loving brother,