A light has gone out in the world. A dear friend of mine ended his life last Sunday. I first met him 19 years ago, and was honoured to be able to call him "friend".
I have been struggling with this since I was told on Monday. I have my own beliefs regarding suicide, which I will not bring into this writing as this is about Tom, not me... Tom has touched so very many people throughout his 42 years. It's hard to believe he's gone - we've had so many wonderful conversations and adventures, I thought we had a lifetime's worth of conversations still to have. There is still so many things I want to talk to him about. There is a hole in my life. I can honestly say that the last 4 days rank as equaling one other event for the saddest in my entire life.
I first met Tom at a party at the apartment of the man I was dating at the time. I was totally mesmerized with this man who was obviously very intelligent and had an interesting way of looking at everything. He really could see every aspect of any given situation. I remember telling my boyfriend and his roommate how charismatic Tom was. And if you saw Tom on the street you wouldn't give him a second glance. He was short (maybe 5'6" or 5'7"?), very slender, scarred face, a laugh that would wake people up on another floor (I loved that laugh, by the way). But his personality filled the room and hearts of everybody that knew him. He was a beautiful person.
At this party, I knew right away that Tom was different than other guys. We were playing a game called Spoons. I was a rather feisty young lady, who liked to win. And I was tough. But every guy I played against wouldn't fight very hard, and I could tell they were letting me win - perhaps because they were afraid they would hurt me, I'm not sure... But not Tom. He fought me tooth and nail for those spoons. He played like we were equals, even though he was stronger than I was, he regarded me as an equal. We both ended up with bruises and teeth marks from those games.
Another time we were having a very interesting conversation. He was likening boyfriends (and girlfriends) to toasters. You might have a fancy-pants 4-slice toaster with all the bells and whistles, and be miserable because as fancy as this toaster is it just doesn't toast the bread the way you like it. What you might be happier with is a little manual toaster than only toasts 2 slices of bread, doesn't have a darkness selector, looks kinda beat up, but it makes perfect toast every time. Just one of the many memories I have of conversations with Tom.
We went back-country camping in Keji. One long weekend of canoeing and camping in the middle of nowhere. Tom and another friend, Brad, didn't have a tent (the rest of us did), so they really roughed it sleeping in the open air (and yes, the bugs were baaaad). But it was an amazing weekend that I will never forget.
Tom has travelled to many places - on his motorcycle when he had it, as well as backpacking. I remember his stories of his travels through Britain, and the story of the mead :) He almost had his pilot's license - if I remember correctly he was only a few hours of flight time from getting it.
He worked in the movie industry in Halifax. I remember his allergies (who is allergic to lilacs???).
Tom would help people just because he could. He never expected anything in return. Although he didn't help me paint when I moved (he said that he's absolutely horrible at painting, and this has been confirmed by other people), he did help me move - more than once. He put his own dreams and ambitions on the back burner because of a promise he made to help somebody. You could tell him anything, and if you asked him not to tell anybody else he wouldn't. Period. He helped people physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He and I had a lot of similar spiritual beliefs. He was a bit of a flake, just like me :) In a good way, of course!
As smart and as intuitive as Tom was, I don't think he had a clue as to how important he was to so many people. If he knew just how many lives he made better, he wouldn't have ended his life. He has left a hole in so many hearts and lives.
The memorial service is tomorrow afternoon. I'm writing this now because, even though I've been crying since typing the title, I'm afraid that if I don't get it out somehow I will be an absolute mess tomorrow afternoon. I don't have any digital photos of Tom on my computer, although I think my husband does on his laptop. The only photo I have access to is the one that he had on his Facebook profile.
May he have found the peace that he must have been looking for. My life is better in so many ways for having known Tom, and yet now there is this emptiness...
I'll see you in another lifetime, my friend. And perhaps I will be in a position of being able to help you as much as you have helped me in this one ...
The Canadianist: Issue Two
13 hours ago