A friend/classmate from college just passed away. Preceding that was the good news that the heart surgery had gone well and he was home, resting.
Reflecting on his passing I realized that it had been over 25 years since I had seen the man in person, but that didn’t diminish the sincere sadness and loss that I felt. And I got to thinking about the clearest memories that I had of him from that time. (Most of the memories are more generic ones of warmth and laughter. Nothing wrong with that. I love warmth. I love laughter.)
My favorite memory is from Acting 100 (101?). Everyone with a theatre major had to take it. I was taking it first semester, freshman year. Tommy was taking it later in college career. After all, he wasn’t there for acting. He was a backstage guy. His friend Steve, also a behind the scenes person, was also in the class. They were fantastic. While they weren’t actors and had no interest in changing tracks, they embraced all the exercises we were learning. They didn’t roll their eyes or begrudgingly take part.
Not everything we did in class was acting related. I don’t recall why now, but we were playing dodge ball one day. Tommy and Steve were on the same team that I was on. We were doing great. So great and so enthusiastically that when Steve went to stop a ball, his elbow and my forehead made contact. Did I mention that both Tommy and Steve were not small guys?
The welt was large and immediate. Tommy was the one who went to get the ice.
That’s my memory. And it’s all good. The dodge ball. The welt. The feeling of being taken care of by my new friends in college.
Then all of a sudden it’s 2016 and I’m saying goodbye to someone who hasn’t been present in my life for over half of my life. And yet I’m struck by the loss.
Which got me to thinking, earlier today, that friendships are like that.
Not all relationships are maintained at the same levels across time, but that doesn’t diminish the feelings or the importance of the space and time in which they did exist. And I hope that if I now send out warm feelings, positive vibes, warm fuzzies, or whatever, that they reach the people who have positively shaped me but I’m not currently in contact with.
Rest in peace, Tommy. As so many have said, you were legendary, one of a kind, a man with a great laugh, and someone who will be greatly missed.