Dec 29, 2013

Dear Thomas,

I went to your house on Friday to spend some time with your wife. I haven’t hung out at her house in probably 20 years... and I have missed it more than I knew.  I only wish we were seeing each other under happier circumstances.

Greg was there. He is supporting her, like he does.  I had met him once or twice, way back when. He didn’t remember me, and was somewhat horrified to be spending an evening with a former fiancee of a Northview wrestler.  That was worthy of a few giggles.

We talked of people and places from our 20s. It seems so long ago when we were all that young and silly. How much has happened in those two decades.

We talked of how you and Erin met. She thought you were kind of an idiot at first.  Funny how a soulmate doesn’t always start out as one. But I guess one evening at Duke’s was enough for your hidden charms to win her over. 

We talked about the kids.  You and Erin sure made beautiful children. I toured their rooms - Lili’s doll collection freaks me out too.  We talked about Willem. Nearly two years later, and I still can’t comprehend the horror of his death. 

We talked about you, of course.  How could we not?  I learned so much about you, from the wife who loves you. Then, now, always. How you used to love Christmas so much, you would make hoofprints in the snow and spread glitter from the reindeer. How you would jingle bells and make Christmas-y noises as you were putting out gifts.  What a wonderful father you were.

We talked about your bad days. I know I didn’t know you well - ours was a friendship baptized by the fire of critically ill children. I always worried when I posted something had happened to Claire - how you would react. You were so sensitive when it came to kids.

Thomas, you were so loved. By your wife, by your children, by your friends, by your brothers in arms. What you did was not the answer. The world is not a better place without you in it. For anyone.  I am just so unbelievably sad that you couldn’t see beyond what you lost to what you had left.

I hope there’s something after death. I don’t know if I believe, but I hope you found Willem. That you are together in eternity. That you found your peace. That you will watch over the beautiful family you left behind and protect them as best you can. 

Before we left, Erin took me downstairs to see the playroom. She detoured to “your” room. Before she opened the door, she said, “I don’t know what to do about this...” and then... a microcosm of you. Yes, you were indeed the giant slob that Erin said you were. A collection of random things all thrown about in a whirlwind of mess.  

But as I looked closer... a bottle of Old Spice. Erin had said earlier it was the only scent you would wear, and that it smelled so good on you. You kicked it old school, didn’t you?

Your guitar, music open on the stand.  A beautiful pencil sketch you made of your beautiful boy. A painting you made of a pink shell.  Artist.

Fatigues, a rucksack, a welcome home poster made by the children, decorated with a proud American flag.  Soldier. Father.

Tshirts, socks, shoes, belts. Messy husband. We laughed about your cowboy hats. They truly were ridiculous. She hated them. But she smiled and laughed just looking at them. Soulmate.

You were so many things to so many people, Thomas. You will be so damn missed.

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