Life’s hellos and goodbyes

This post is a little different this time as I wanted to take the time to stop and acknowledge an important person who is no longer with us. My family recently lost a close family friend last week, and we are still in some ways reeling from it. My daughter was a part of our local church youth group, and their leader was Tom, a 44-year-old man with a wife and no kids. He thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the kids in the youth group and was a big kid himself. Tom was an incredibly giving human that had a powerful bond with his youth group. My daughter has always been timid, and as she’s gotten older, this takes the form of being standoffish to most people. But with Tom, she had become very close to him over the short time he was in our lives.

Tom, his wife, Stacey, had been over to our house for a pool party, and we had been over to their house for a summer bbq, all earlier this year. And recently I threw a 50th birthday celebration for my wife and invited them. Tragically Tom had a stroke and was in a coma several weeks earlier. Truth be told, Laurie and I had a great time at the 50th birthday party, but we were thinking of Tom and his wife in our minds. We got the news a week and a half later that he had passed away. Everyone was devastated. Laurie and I dreaded telling our daughter, but we knew she was going to school the next day and her friend, who also was in the youth group with Tom, was sure to tell her if we didn’t.

Tom had been a confirmation teacher and a youth leader as long as I knew him, which was not long at all, around two and half years. Tom was always very active in the church and an incredible singer, as I recently found out.

Tom’s funeral was last Thursday, and I knew it would be the saddest funeral I had ever attended, and I was right. You could tell everyone was deeply affected or in tears, especially the Pastor, Pastor Matt. I should say I just went to the viewing, not the actual funeral service at the church. My wife and daughter went to the funeral service, and she said it was even sadder and extremely difficult to sit through.

When we lose someone special to us, we hopefully go through the natural grieving process and move on with our lives, but never forget the ones we have lost in our hearts. I’ve had too many to count, hellos and goodbyes, and this one hurt a lot. The crazy thing I keep coming back to, I only knew him for such a short time, but he made a deep and lasting impact on my family’s lives. Laurie would drive my daughter to confirmation on Tuesday nights, stay there until it was over, then talk to Tom for an hour after it was over. So my wife and Tom were very close as well. I’m not sure how the youth group will go forward from here, but I hope that the Pastor will take over, at least in the meantime. Tom meant a lot to every one of those kids, and I’m sure they meant a lot to Tom.

Tom’s passing is a reminder in our lives that live each day as it was your last. Life is not guaranteed, and tell the ones you love that you love them because you never knew when you might lose them.

I’ve said it before in one of my other posts, but it bears repeating don’t wait until you’re retired to start traveling. Most of my In-laws don’t understand why we travel as much as we do. One of the main reasons is to get out there and explore and learn different cultures and meet people you normally wouldn’t meet in your own country before your time on this earth is up. Expand your knowledge and your horizons before it’s too late. When I worked at Metlife in Denver, I knew several people that worked there until retirement. Then right after retiring, they were looking forward to traveling but wound up dropping dead. And I also know plenty of people who are content with where they live and have no desire to travel. And that’s ok. Just be aware that you are limiting yourself and your experiences in life. Travel is similar to college because it broadens your view of the world and makes you appreciate all the privileges we have in this life. College can only teach you theory (it’s your experiences in college that stay with you forever). Travel will profoundly shape your views of the world and the way you see yourself in it.

I will be forever grateful for the time we had with Tom, and I hope someday I can be remembered as someone who had a significant impact on someone else’s life as Tom did on our daughter’s life.

I am posting a link to my donation page for the Polar Bear Plunge in February 2022 in honor of Tom. It’s to raise money for the Special Olympics, which Tom was a huge supporter of. Please consider making a donation if you are able to do so. Much appreciation for reading this post. Take care of yourselves and if you have any stories you need to unburden or get off your chest please feel free to drop me a line in the comments with your email.

1 comment

  1. Very well put Lynn and traveling has definitely restored my beliefs in people. I will definitely donate for the plunge.

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