Life Without Tom

“Can I come over?” I asked my girlfriend Fran, staring blankly at the message on my computer screen.

It was three months after Tom had started treatment.  We’d seen him three times, the last time just two weeks ago.  He’d seemed better, less dependent on his oxygen machine and able to actually greet us at the door for the first time.  His hair was returning a bit, even, a lighter shade of coppery brown instead of his usual much darker brown.   We were encouraged for the first time after a visit to him, that he just might come out on top of this thing.

But the messages started flying via email a few days ago; had anyone heard from Tom?  I had talked to him after my appearance on TV during our latest budget battle; he’d called me to tell me a job well done and laughingly called me “The General”, the name he’d dubbed me with in our previous work together on our town budget.  No one seemed to have heard from him via email lately, and there was word around Town Hall that he’d been readmitted to the hospital.  No one seemed to know anything concrete.

It was therefore a complete shock when our new first selectman sent out a mass email announcing Tom’s passing earlier that day at Yale New Haven hospital with his family gathered by.  We hadn’t seen it coming; he seemed to be getting better.

Fran could hardly spit out the words in response to my question; she was in shock, same as me.  I wanted to be with her and my other friends who had known Tom; R just wouldn’t get it.  He liked Tom well enough, had had several conversations with him, but didn’t really understand why all of us were so attached.  He couldn’t tell stories about Tom, talk about our late night strategy sessions or our shots of tequila or how different he’d looked after treatment.  “Come over now,” she mumbled mostly incoherently into the phone before she started sobbing.

R said nothing but gave me a sympathetic squeeze and handed me a bottle of wine as I raced through my tears and out the door.

I couldn’t believe he was gone.  I just couldn’t believe it.   And as we all sat around that night, toasting Tom and telling the stories that I’d craved, we all asked the same question:

What would we do without him?


2 Responses

  1. Sorry for your loss.

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